November 2019 Newsletter

The hot event that took place in November was the FIR World Championships. The Championships were full of excitement, including a new victor in the Team Elite category. We will share more about the results of the tournament below and next month we will hear more about Team USA’s results and experiences first hand. As 2019 slowly comes to a close, we are excited to share what we have planned for 2020. In this edition, we will take a peek into the FIR 2020 calendar and next month we will share about the upcoming North American tournaments. In addition, this month we decided to add a new section to the newsletter that is focused on feedback from YOU in the “Call to Action” section. Share your thoughts on tweaking or adding to the traditional four sport lineups. 

Announcements 

FIR World Championships 2019 

Last week the FIR World Championships took place in Germany. Over 100 teams participated across several events including: World Cup, Nations Cup, Challenger Cup, Juniors U21, U16, U13, Seniors +40, +45, +55 and +65. Great Britain had a successful tournament, representing with 48 players at the event! They upset the defending champions to take home the World Cup, additionally they won the Nations Cup, the U16 juniors event and the Senior +45 event. India won the Challengers Cup in their first appearance at Worlds. Finland took first in the U21 team event and France took first in the U13 juniors event. Germany won the remaining events, all in the senior division – seniors +40, +55 and +65. In singles, Denmark’s Jesper Ratzer took home another Men’s A Elite title and powerhouse Christine Seehofer from Austria won the Women’s A Elite title. For the complete list of singles title winners visit the FIR tournaments page

Team USA had an impressive showing, coming in 4thplace in the Challenger Cup. Next month we will hear more about their experience. Stay tuned!

2020 FIR Tour Preview 

The 2020 calendar is not yet confirmed but several events have been added to the calendar. Two of the most important tournaments: Massachusetts Racket Masters (4/11- 4/12) and the World Championships (8/19 – 8/23) are confirmed. Check out the full list that has been released on racketlon.net

DateTournamentLocation
Jan 3rd  – 4th CHA Thailand OpenPattaya, Thailand
Jan 3rd  – 4th IWT Vienna New Year ClassicsVienna, Austria
Jan 10th – 12th CHA Indian OpenUdaipur, India
Feb 22nd – 23rd CHA Luxembourg OpenLuxembourg
March 20th – 22nd CHA Nick Matthew Steel City OpenSheffield, UK
April 2nd – 5th IWT Czech Open & World Doubles ChampionshipsPrague, Czech Republic
Aprli 11th – 12th CHA Massachusetts OpenNorthampton, MA, USA
May 8th – 10th IWT Berlin OpenBerlin, Germany 
May 29th – 31st SWT King of Rackets Oudenaarde, Belgium
June 12th – 14th SWT RacketFest Leipzig, Germany
June 26th – 28th IWT Swiss OpenZurich, Switzerland
July 10th – 12th IWT Latvian OpenRiga, Latvia
July 24th – 26th IWT London OpenRoehampton, UK
Aug 7th – 9th IWT German Open Nussloch, Germany
Aug 19th – 23rd World Team & Singles Championships Rotterdam, Netherlands
Sept 18th – 20th IWT Finnish Open Helsinki, Finland
Oct 24th – 25th IWT Paris Open Paris, France
Dec 12th – 14th IWT Club La Santa OpenClub La Santa, Lanzarote

Call to Action: Player’s Survey  

Each month we want to hear from you! We plan to include a “call to action” section each month to get input from the USA Racketlon community. This month, we would like to hear your opinions on tournaments that swap or add a “non-traditional” racket sport. Our friends to the north held two tournaments in 2019 that included pickleball in the racketlon mix. If you had a choice, would you prefer to keep tournaments to the original four sports: table tennis, badminton, squash and tennis? Or, are you open to introducing other racket sports into the mix (ie. pickleball, racquetball, etc.)? Please don’t be shy! 2020 holds the opportunity for us to host other tournaments besides the MA Racket Masters and we want to get a pulse on what the interests are of the community. Please take thirty seconds to fill out the survey below to help some decision-making about a potential spring tournament in Rochester, NY:  Survey on Type of Racket Sports 

Coaches Corner: Table Tennis – The Backspin Serve (Justin D’Antonio)

This month I want to focus on the first of the four racket sports, table tennis – particularly, the backspin serve. Imagine you are stepping on the court for the first set of your racketlon match and have no idea what to expect of your opponent in any of the four sports. If your opponent is serving, it is helpful to know that a vast majority of players will primarily hit backspin serves. Although these serves may seem simple on the surface, the quality of your serve will often set the tone for the point. It is also the only time in the rally you have complete control so it is worth spending time perfecting it.

The point of the backspin serve is to prevent the opponent from opening with an attack. Backspin makes it more difficult to attack  because the returner has to sacrifice energy swinging up to get the ball over the net, decreasing the energy and timing available to generate speed for an effective attack. Key things to think about when working on the motion of your backspin serve are: bounce height, placement, and spin variety.

Since the goal is to prevent the returner from attacking, a backspin serve is useless against a strong player if it bounces up high or lands deep. Developing a low, short backspin serve impedes aggressive players from using a full swing loop to overcome the backspin, and they must flick over the ball with a much more compact motion or push the return back in play with a defensive shot. You will find many players that have a HUGE variety of serves but none are very consistent or effective. My suggestion is to perfect a few simple serves for racketlon and improve them to a high level before learning a new one. 

Whether you’re using a pendulum serve, backhand serve, or other style, the technical aspects of your service motion have much in common. Your grip on the paddle should be a loose pinch between your thumb and index finger that allows your wrist to move through quickly and freely. You want to swipe under the ball horizontally with the paddle facing the ceiling or even facing slightly back away from the table. This may feel unnatural at first, so it is sometimes beneficial to just forget about serving and try swinging under the ball in this way freely to get a feel for what it does to the ball. Note: you can still get plenty of spin on the serve with the paddle tilted forward, but it will tend to land deeper and have more speed than spin; making it less effective.

Depending on the height of your toss, you should contact the ball at or slightly below the height of the net to ensure a low bounce. You can increase the spin by flicking your wrist through more quickly and also by contacting the ball at the edge of the paddle furthest from the handle. By learning this motion, you can use deception by hitting two serves with the exact same motion where one is heavy backspin and one is no spin, just from contacting one at the top of the rubber and the next at the bottom!

Check out these two YouTube videos for help on learning and perfecting the backspin serve! 

Player Spotlight – Eric Shear 

Racketlon is not only for the young at heart but also for our younger generations! We are excited to announce that the USA Racketlon player spotlight for November is FIR World #18 in Boys Junior Doubles, Eric Shear.

We were able to catch up with this busy 18-year-old college freshman to learn more about his racketlon journey.

Eric was born and raised just north of Syracuse in Fulton, NY. He now spends the majority of his time in Oneonta, NY attending SUNY Oneonta studying Sports Management and Business Administration. He also competes on the NCAA Men’s Varsity Tennis team. 

Eric has had a tennis racket in his hands since the age of 8. He spent five years on his high school varsity tennis team where he most recently achieved a long time goal of winning the NYS Class A Boys First Singles Sectional title, for the first time in the history of the program. Along with tennis, Eric played three years of varsity boys ice hockey. Being a natural athlete who thrives on competition and challenges in sport, racketlon “sounded like fun.” 

Although racket sports have been in his life for the last decade, racketlon is new for Eric. He has been playing for about a year. He made his FIR appearance at Smith College in MA in April 2019. There he teamed up with newcomer Justin D’Antonio in the men’s elite doubles. Although they faced defeat against many strong opponents, Eric was able to take home first place in the “first timers” singles draw. Eric shared that winning the singles event has been his favorite racketlon memory so far. He was nervous for the tournament but felt he had prepared enough to hold his own. The taste of victory has motivated him to keep playing and grow the sport. 

Eric trains for table tennis at the Syracuse Table Tennis Club and with family on his free time. He is currently trying to start a collegiate table tennis club at Oneonta. Eric is a member of the SUNY Oneonta badminton club and also trains at his local YMCA when he is home from school. Squash is the most foreign of the racket sports for Eric. He started playing squash in early 2019 and participated in one local tournament held at SUNY Oswego in Feb 2019. Beyond the core four sports of racketlon, Eric can also be found playing pickleball.

Here is some advice that Eric shared to others interested in racketlon, “honestly the best I can say is to not give up. Even if you have a bad day training, get back up the next day and keep working. Keep striving to be the best player you can be. That’s all you can really ask for. Get involved and do not be afraid to ask someone else for help. It is okay to lose sometimes as long as you learn from it. Pick yourself back up and keep trying. Lastly, spread the word of this fun and intense sport to others!!”

Follow Eric on Instagram and Facebook to follow his racketlon journey.
IG: eric.shear 
FB: Eric Shear

Please share any recommendations for future featured players to usaracketlon@gmail.com.

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