Ashutosh Pednekar is an Indian navy captain with a prodigious talent for racket sports

Representing your country is a dream for many but achieved by a few. For some, the road to this ambition is through sports, for others it’s through the armed forces and for Ashutosh Pednekar, a navy captain from India, it’s a combination of both. Excelling in one sport is difficult enough, Ashutosh Pednekar’s talent with racquet sports has earned him global recognition through sports news because of Racketlon.

If you’re wondering what Racketlon is, it’s a unique format where four sports: Table Tennis, Badminton, Squash and Tennis are played one after another with each game played for a total of 21 points. The player who scores the most points across the four sports is then judged the winner of a Racketlon match. Sounds difficult? We think so too..

In this exclusive interview with SPOGO, Mr. Ashutosh Pednekar speaks about being introduced to Racketlon, his accomplishments, the level of competition, coping up with the demands of four sports and his goals for the future! Read on..

Q 1) When were you first introduced to Racketlon and what drew you into this unique sporting format?

I have been playing the individual racquet sports of Badminton, Squash and Lawn tennis competitively at the National level for several years since my late thirties. However, my fascination with the sport of Racketlon started pretty late in my sporting career after I had completed the age of 45. At one of the National Squash Championship where I lost in the semifinal in Masters 45 plus category, I happened to meet a renowned squash coach and dear friend Abhinav Sinha who mentioned that there are these two Racketlon tournaments coming  up in Denmark and Belgium where because of my strong badminton and squash I would definitely have a chance to win. I read about the sport on the internet, understood its intriguing format and instantly got attracted to it. I gauged that yes, I should definitely try my hand at the sport as I stood a fighting chance of winning the first ever International Gold medals in any sport for myself and in Racketlon for the country as well as no Indian had ever won an International Racketlon Championship.

Q 2) How was the experience of winning the +45 Men’s Singles World Championship in 2018?

I won the World Championship title in the 2018 World Racketlon Championship held at Zurich Switzerland, which was the first ever World title for me. I also felt very honored to be the First Indian to be able to achieve this feat. The feeling of hearing the National Anthem while receiving the medal during the ceremony cannot be described in words and only those who have been there and done that know the profound emotions that bring tears into the eyes.

ashutosh-2 Ashutosh Pednekar is an Indian navy captain with a prodigious talent for racket sports

Q 3) What is the level of competition at the international racketlon tournaments?

As is the case with any other sport, the level of competition and intensity of game at the World level is extremely high. Every participant has put in years of hard work to reach that level of skills/physical fitness and is fighting it out for winning each point in this fascinating format which is especially unforgiving for those who lose focus even for brief spells.

Also read: I hope to win the National title and raise my international rankings – Racketlon star Siddhartha Nandal

Q4) Out of the four sports in racketlon – table tennis, squash, badminton and tennis, which ones are your strengths and weaknesses? What is your strategy going into matches?

You can say that as far as my sporting career is concerned I have been born and brought up in Badminton. My Racketlon is basically evolved on the bedrock of Badminton. I joined the Indian Navy as an Officer in my twenties and found that in the Armed forces, more importance is given to Squash and Lawn tennis. Therefore, in order to get a good level of players to play with and participate in the Inter Services competitions, I had to learn squash and lawn tennis. Being a strong Badminton player, these games were very natural to step into and within a few years I found myself winning at both these at Services level. Presently, in both Squash and Badminton in Masters 40 / 45 plus category at the National level, I have been winning Gold / Silver / Bronze medals consistently since the last 8 years.

Thus, at the International Racketlon level I would say I am of the highest level in my category in these 3 sports with my weakest sport being Table tennis. However, with proper dedicated coaching initially under Mr J Mohite, coach at Hindu Gymkhana and later fine tuned under guidance of International medals winner and level 3 certified TT coach Ms Moonmoon Mukherjee at the Catholic Gymkhana, my Table tennis has improved considerably now.

Q 5) How physically and mentally demanding is the racketlon format? How do you cope up with the demands of the game?

The sport of Racketlon is very challenging both physically and mentally for the very reason that the player needs to play 21 points each of all 4 sports of Table Tennis, Badminton, Squash and Lawn Tennis back to back against his opponent to decide who is winner. Thus, to sustain the demands of four sports on the body, one needs to be at a very high level of physical fitness with equal strength in endurance and muscle power. Furthermore, one has to be mentally strong as in this format, each and every point counts towards winning. One cannot afford to lose focus and play casually even for a single point as it would come back and hurt you at the end very badly. My strategy in matches is to maximize in my strong events and try not to give any free points in my strong sports as it is very easy to lose focus and give away an odd point when you know you are going to win easily. The weaker sports strategy is to go all out for winners as playing safe is neither going to win you points nor is it helping your cause stamina / endurance wise as you will be running more than your stronger opponent.

ashutosh-2-2 Ashutosh Pednekar is an Indian navy captain with a prodigious talent for racket sports

Q 6) What would you like to achieve in Racketlon in the future? How do you plan to accomplish it?

Presently, at the World Championship I have won the Gold medal in 45 plus in 2018 and a Silver in 2019 World Championships. My immediate goal here would be to win the 50 plus individual  World title.

I have also captained the Indian team in the open category which won a Gold medal in team Championship at 3rd Division level. Now that we are promoted to a higher level of competition, that is 2nd Division, I would love to groom our India team players to reach the level of expertise so that Indian team can win this World Championship Cup too.

Because of my achievement in the Masters category at World level, very few people know that at the National level I have remained unbeaten not only at Masters level but also in the open category comprising players from all age groups. I would like to repeat the feat of being the Indian National Champion in Open category even after crossing age of 50. Towards this, I aim to keep myself injury free, physically fit and focused in practice sessions for the next one year. Being an officer of the rank of Captain in the Indian Navy and presently heading a unit at Goa, it may not be possible to travel as much for competitions.

However, I would still definitely help the Indian Racketlon Association headed by Mr KK Cheema and guided and mentored by Shri Krishna Kotak to popularise the sport in India and share my experience towards grooming of the Indian team for next World Championship.


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