Our vision is to participate in the World Championships and grow the format in India – Kaushal Kumar Cheema, President of Racketlon

For elite athletes, it’s a dedication of a lifetime to perfect their craft. Reaching the highest level at one sport takes years of hard work, sacrifice and a passion for the game to be featured in the sports news, but how would it be if the expectation was to not just excel at one but FOUR different sports?

For some of India’s Racketlon players such as Mr. Krishna Kotak, Founder and Promoter of Racketlon India, it was a natural achievement. The Chairman of J.M Baxi & Co. finished 14th in Zurich alongside Mr. Ashutosh Pednekar, who won the + 45 men’s singles World Championship in 2018.

In 2019, Indian Racketlon players participated in Leipzig, Germany with a 16 member team, where the country won the Challenge Cup team championship in their first attempt. Mr. Abhinav Kashyap from Bangalore won a gold medal in the singles category, Mr. Varinder Singh won the bronze and Mr. Ashutosh Pednekar won a silver at one of the singles category.

If you’re still wondering what Racketlon is, we’re here to help you out! It’s a format where you play your opponent at table tennis, badminton, squash and tennis (in that exact order). Each sport gives a total of 21 points, with the player who gets maximum points winning the match. Let’s learn more about this intriguing format with Mr. Kaushal Kumar Cheema, President of Racketlon who tells us about the reception it has received in India, the unique format, overcoming challenges, potential in India and future plans!

Q 1) Racketlon is a unique sports initiative that combines four different sports such as Table Tennis, Badminton, Squash and Tennis. What sort of reception has it received so far in India?

We have received an excellent response from the players and people of our country. Racketlon India Sports Association was formed in 2017 in affiliation with the global body known as Federal International de Racketlon based in Switzerland. We are officially recognized and accepted by them and follow all the rules and regulations set by them. Wherever we have gone and spoken about Racketlon, it has been well received. All the four sports, table tennis, badminton, squash and tennis are well known in the country so it’s not difficult to promote Racketlon, the only thing is we need to explain the concept. Clubs, states, towns and players have given us feedback and enquired about Racketlon, so it has been tremendous.

Q 2) How does Racketlon pair one individual to another based on varying skill levels? What is the format of the game?

In Racketlon, two individuals play table tennis, badminton, squash and tennis in the same session. First, table tennis will be played for 21 points, after three minutes badminton will be played for 21 points as well. After that, a 21 points game of squash is played followed by tennis for the same number of points. The beauty of the format is such that whoever scored the maximum number of points across all the four sports is the winner. Winning at one sport is not enough in Racketlon. When a draw is made, an assessment of the player is made based on their past performances and we have a committee that assesses their history and analyzes their strengths amongst the four sports. Accordingly we decide the pairs, make the draws and through this format a player can progress.

racketlon-article-image-1 Our vision is to participate in the World Championships and grow the format in India - Kaushal Kumar Cheema, President of Racketlon

Q 3) What are the challenges that you have faced in promoting Racketlon in India? How can they be overcome?

While Racketlon was officially recognized in 2017, the work had already begun from two years prior. We have not faced any challenges in India as the concept has been widely accepted. All the four Racketlon sports, table tennis, badminton, squash and tennis are extremely popular and played by a large number of people, they only need to understand the concept of how Racketlon is played. Racketlon is known across all four zones in India and we have done extremely well in bringing awareness of the sport. In 2018, we participated in the World Championship in Zurich, in 2019 we participated in the World Racketlon Championship in Leipzig, Germany. We had the India Open World Tour Event in Udaipur, the Ahmedabad – Gujarat Open for Indian players in 2019 and we had a local Racketlon tournament at Willingdon Catholic Gymkhana at Khar in December 2020. Lots of people have participated and enjoyed playing Racketlon.

Q 4) What are the benefits of Racketlon as compared to playing each of these sports separately? What are some of its achievements so far?

Racketlon virtually challenges you both mentally and physically as well as strategy wise. If you look at the concept, first you play table tennis, then badminton, squash and tennis. There is a different field, object and the beauty is you have to keep on switching among these four games immediately after finishing a match within the time limit of three to five minutes. It is challenging as it requires a very different kind of approach as ultimately total points are going to be counted at the end of the game. Each and every player has to fight for every single point as there have been instances in the past where players have lost the match by barely 1 or 2 points. Our Indian players by nature love challenges and look forward to new and interesting things. Hence this sport is perfect for them as India is very well acquainted with all the four games in Racketlon. Besides, the game provides a great challenge as all the four sports require different levels of  movement, focus or footwork, not just that the instant switches also demand good mental strength. The sequence is also pre-determined and you cannot change it. Sequences remain the same whether it's a local, national or international level tournament. Virtually you are playing four different sports one after another so your endurance, flexibility and mental strength are all tested. At the end of the day, you realise you had a wonderful time and are satisfied and relaxed both mentally and physically.

Q 5) How much has Racketlon grown in India and across the world? Do you see a lot of potential for this format in our country?

The sport of Racketlon in Europe and other parts of the world has been played since 1980. It has a great history. It was introduced by the great former tennis player Fred Perry and since then it has improved. Almost thirty different countries are members of the global body. The sport is played on a large scale in Europe and now in America as well. We started Racketlon and began to work on it officially in India in 2017. We have already formed Racketlon State Associations in Goa, Gujarat, Rajasthan, and Delhi. The Maharashtra State association is already with our national body. We are also in process and discussion with Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Haryana and they are very keen to form a state association as well. Due to the pandemic situation for the last two years many of our activities have slowed down but when we return to normalcy, all the states will be affiliated to our association within five years and we will go globally on a large scale. In the last two years we have done extremely well internationally as well. There is no shortage of infrastructure in the country as most of the schools, universities, club, township or big housing society have all the four facilities available given the popularity of all these four racket games. The only requirement is that all these facilities remain in the same compound or at one place. We also need to activate some events in India. We have plans to start inter school, inter collegiate and inter university and are in touch with some of the renowned universities in Haryana and Delhi where they have all the infrastructure and are also keen to start this sport. Very soon we are going to start an All India inter University tournament. We are also  going to invite other Universities of Asia and Europe in future so that those players can also come and participate. When the youth and juniors participate they come in a very large volume and this brings in the involvement of parents and the whole family. Hence you can imagine the future of racketlon. For that we need to reach the masses through media platforms and we are always open for communication and discussion as far as the racketlon is concerned.

racketlon-2nd-article-image-1 Our vision is to participate in the World Championships and grow the format in India - Kaushal Kumar Cheema, President of Racketlon

Q 6) What are your plans and vision for Racketlon in the future? How do you plan to achieve them?

We have already formed about five state associations and are in the process of another three state Associations. When these state associations are formed they naturally become our partners in the process. These state associations will be forming the district association and when that chain is established it will have a big growth. At the same time, Racketlon is offering all the categories – kids, adults, women, double singles and team events. We have 40-45-50-55 up to 70 veteran events as well. People have options to play in various age groups and categories. It offers a lot of things to choose from and participate in. Our National association – Racketlon India Sports Association is in the process of creating structures with all four facilities. It will become a centre of national facilities and we will be providing table tennis, badminton, squash and tennis all at one place. We have already acquired the land and we are going to proceed with it with hope to complete the project within two and half years. We will be providing all the facilities and national camps will also be organized. People will be coming there to train for Racketlon at the same time we will be activating the sport in our country in our own national centre and we will be inviting various global, renowned players to participate in our events in India. That's our vision and plan for the future and we intend to carry big teams in the World Championships and to Europe and participate in as many tournaments as possible in the country and Europe, which will also bring a big growth. As all these racquet events are well established in our country and racketlon India is hardly 7 years old, it takes time for any new thing to make its place. Also, by adding racketlon we have opened a window for our Indian players to become global. There are many players who are extremely good at these individual events but have a saturation and cannot go beyond a particular level in those individual sports but when they come to racketlon and are good at two or three sports they are getting an opportunity to go international. We have seen a lot of badminton players play for our Indian team last time and they were wonderful but were finding it hard to go ahead at the international or national level. Hence they took up racketlon and represented India in racketlon. This is another platform which we have opened up in the country, we just need support from all so that our players can represent our country in one more sport. That's our vision.


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