February/March 2020 Newsletter

So much has happened in the last two months. In January we shared our excitement for the year ahead including North American tournaments, world championships and community outreach initiatives to expand the awareness of Racketlon. Now we find ourselves where no one expected, in the middle of a pandemic. COVID-19 has put everything on pause around us and has forced many of us to adjust our training or stop all together. We hope that we can share with you in this newsletter, ways to stay active and positive during these times. Over the next few months we plan to release newsletters every other month. We encourage everyone to join us on social media at usaracketlon on both Instagram and Facebook. We hope everyone stays safe and healthy. 

Announcements 

Tournament Cancelations (Massachusetts Racket Masters)

About two weeks ago we shared in an email that due to COVID-19 we have had to cancel this year’s Massachusetts Racket Masters tournament at Smith College. The tournament was scheduled to take place on April 11-12th. Since our announcement in early March, FIR has also announced the cancelation along with several other tournaments between now and June on the world circuit. We hope that in the coming months we will hear more about any schedule changes for the remainder of the year. As of right now, the World Championships which are scheduled for August have not been canceled. 

FIR Racket Challenges

If you don’t already follow us on social media, check us out. Over the past few weeks FIR has initiated “racket challenges”. The first was a #tennischallenge where individuals had 30 seconds to hit volleys off a wall while sitting in a chair, alternating forehand and backhands. You have to use a tennis racket but could use any type of ball. Players participated all across the world and in the USA. Currently the most consecutive volleys in 30 seconds is 92 by Germany’s Christian Reid. In the US, junior Eric Shear started us off with 69. Dominique Canale jumped in the mix as the first female participant in the world with 65. Pat Moran submitted an impressive 77. He was quickly beat out by Wesleyan squash coach, Shona Kerr with 80 shots in 30 seconds. Within the past week, new Racketlon hopeful, Bridget Bender posted a video with a score of 83! Join us in beating the world record of 92! Submit your videos to USA Racketlon on Instagram or Facebook.

The next racket challenge is #pingpongchallenge. This consists of bouncing a ping pong ball up in the air off of the bottom of your paddle handle. There is no time limit but this takes an insane amount of concentration. Juniors around the world have posted numbers in the 100s, 200s and 400s! Join in on the fun.

Squash Skills Discount – Act Now 

A big thank you to FIR for linking up with SquashSkills for an incredible offer. SquashSkills is offering every racketlon player a chance to buy a 3 month membership for $18 or an annual membership for $60 USD – a 50% discount! This membership enables you access to a library of over 4,000 coaching videos and documentaries with interviews including some of the best players in the sport. For more information visit the FIR announcement here! To take advantage of this exclusive Racketlon 50% discount click here.

University of Rochester tournament recap 

The Battle of the Rackets tournament was a phenomenal success with 43 participants, making it the largest racketlon tournament in US history! The event was hosted by University of Rochester in Upstate NY in the beautiful Goergen Athletic Center, featuring 4 tennis courts, 5 squash courts, 9 badminton courts and 3 table tennis tables, all located directly adjacent to one another. The venue is centrally located attracting players from Western and Central NY, Massachusetts, Ottawa, Montreal, Toronto, New York City and Rhode Island. This tournament was made possible by the racket sport clubs of the University of Rochester who reserved the venue, coordinated with tournament director: Justin D’Antonio and provided balls for matches. In addition, they promoted the sport of racketlon on campus, resulting in ten students signing up to complete! There were a total of 9 events including 2 groups for men’s doubles, a women’s doubles draw and mixed doubles. In singles there were 4 men’s draws and 1 women’s draw. Every player was guaranteed two matches per event, making for over 70 matches played in 12 hours for a 1-day tournament!

The 2019 USA World Championship team was represented well with team members Patrick Moran and Shree Dhond taking first and second in the A singles and then coming together to win the A doubles draw. On the women’s side, Canadian Oriana Giraud took first place in both the women’s singles and women’s doubles with U of R student Fatima Shah as her partner. The other women’s singles finalist, Margaret (LaFleur) Budd, showed great potential taking second place in her first ever Racketlon tournament! She also took second place in mixed doubles with her husband Michael Budd. SUNY Oswego student, Brandon Willis of Central New York took first place in the beginner singles with a strong showing in table tennis and also dominated the mixed doubles, taking first place with SUNY Oswego 1st singles tennis player, Bridget Bender. Thank you to the sponsors of this tournament: Oliver Sport and Tennis Replenish, who provided wonderful prizes for the finalists of each event. Keep an eye out for the bright future of this tournament, potentially becoming the second FIR sanctioned tournament on the continent!

Here are the finalists for each event:

Singles Men’s A: 1st. Patrick Moran     2nd. Shree Dhond

Singles Men’s B: 1st. Marc Fortin         2nd. Dominique Canale (W)

Singles Men’s C: 1st. Stan Singh          2nd. Trent Searfoss

Beginner Singles: 1st. Brandon Willis  2nd. Mike Gueth

Singles Women’s: 1st. Oriana Giraud 2nd. Margaret (LaFluer) Budd

Doubles Men’s A: 1st Pat Moran/Shree Dhond  2nd: Darren Mak/Christian Yu

Doubles B/C: 1st: Andrew Macklin/Robert McGill   2nd: Eric Shear/ Dominique Canale (W)

Doubles Women’s: 1st. Oriana Giraud/Fatima Shah  2nd. Julie Fleischman/Emma Bentley

Doubles Mixed: 1st. Brandon Willis/Bridget Bender  2nd. Mike and Margaret Budd

Find the full results here: U of R Battle of the Rackets Tournament Results

Check out the tournament photos here: U of R Battle of the Rackets Tournament Photos

FIR New Climate Change Policy 

During the 2019 World Championships, the Council officially approved the new proposed FIR Climate Change Policy. This policy is designed to provide important information to players so that they are then able to make informed environmental choices – especially around tournament travel. FIR President, Duncan Stahl, has spoken out in the past about the responsibility of FIR players to be proactive in promoting that the Tour be run in the most environmentally effective way. Incentives will be provided to players and tournament directors who comply with the policy recommendations. To read the full announcement, visit the FIR Racketlon Website – Climate Change Policy. In the meantime, here are the 4 main points of the FIR Climate Change Policy: 

  1. To set an example and to encourage as many players as possible to do the same, the FIR will now pay to carbon off-set all flights of the FIR President – using the Swiss based myclimate.org
  2. In order to encourage players to take the train rather than fly to tournaments where possible, the FIR will pay for the singles entry of the player who has traveled the furthest by train to each SWT and World Champs tournament. (minimum distance: 600 km).
  3. FIR will offer a prize for the “greenest” tournament of the year (details of the prize and the criteria this will be based on will be decided by Cedric Junillon and James Pope and then sent to all Tournament Directors).
  4. Finally the FIR will now sign the Letter of Commitment for the United Nations “Sports For Climate Action”

Player Spotlight – Shona Kerr

For our February/March player spotlight we caught up with Wesleyan University Squash Coach and Racketlon veteran, Shona Kerr. 

Born in South London, Shona spent most of her schooling in the South London area. She spent six years in Caradiff, Wales where she went to university and worked. After college she moved to the US to work in MA and now lives in Middletown, CT. Shona’s background in the four sports varies but it is no secret that she has predominantly played squash since day 1. Her parents were avid recreational/social squash players. She officially hit her first squash ball at Dulwich Squash Club while her mother ran around the cricket field to keep in shape. Over the years she has played nationally and internationally. As a kid, Shona played table tennis for fun in the basement and badminton in PE class at school. Tennis was something she picked up along the way. 

Due to a random late night internet search, Shona found out about Racketlon and around 2004 played her first tournament in Toronto, Canada.Shona believes that participating counts as a win in her book but her favorite moment over the years was sending the first USA Racketlon team to World Championships. In 2012, Shona led Team USA to Sofia, Bulgaria, fully decked out in Old Navy US Olympic wear from that year. This was the cheapest idea she had and it was 20% off with the Old Navy card!  

These days, you can find Shona coaching and training at Wesleyan University. She also teaches the only University accredited class in Racketlon (yes – students graduate with Racketlon on their transcript!). 

When Shona isn’t playing racket sports, she is an avid musician and plays mainly woodwind instruments (bassoon, bagpipes, just the usual; and keyboard.)

Keep an eye out for Shona at future tournaments – and our next player spotlight in the April/ May timeframe.

Coaches Corner: The Quarantined Racketlon’er (Justin D’Antonio)

We know that while being at home it can be incredibly hard to train, especially when you didn’t take a sledgehammer to your garage walls to make space for a ping pong table and ball machine like me! For this coaches corner, we thought it might be helpful to share some tips and tricks on how to improve your racketlon game without playing Racketlon.

Table Tennis 

  1. Spin juggling and handling skills
    1. Juggle the ball adding alternating spins (left & right), angling the paddle to adjust for the spin, trying to keep the flight of the ball as vertical as you can
    2. Juggle the ball with the same side spin, trying to control it by swiping under the ball at the same velocity each time
  2. Serve practice on a regular table
    1. The table dimensions are less important than you your precision, spin and bounce height
    2. Keep a loose wrist to generate the most spin when swiping the ball
    3. You can use household objects to create a net and use boxes or bowls as targets
  3. Weighted forehand & backhand strokes, recommended to me by my 2300 rated friend!
    1. Find a household object (5-20 lbs. per your strength) and perform your strokes
    2. Find a weight that challenges you to swing for 60 seconds straight
    3. Engage your back legs and core as well to replicate a full stroke in competition

Badminton

  1. Speed racket swings with case on for resistance, 60 second sets
    1. Perform forehand pushes in front of you or smash swings above your head
    2. Perform backhand pushes in front of you or backhand clears out to your side
  2. Use the same four strokes mentioned above with a real birdie against a wall that you don’t mind damaging! Keep track of your personal best for each and see if you can break them
  3. Push-ups! Find a difficulty that is intense for sets of 15 or less
    1. Use a wide grip with your hands pointed out to isolate your chest and triceps
    2. Thin grip with your hands pointed up, isolating shoulders and triceps
    3. Vary the intensity by doing push-ups from the knees, inclined, or add weight

Squash

  1. Ghost strokes outdoors on an imaginary court
    1. If you have chalk, you can even draw the dimensions of the court to shadow your true court movement
  2. Corner movement in your biggest room with a partner!
    1. Get your rackets out with a partner and pretend you’re exchanging rails in one of the backhand corners of the court, moving around each other in and out of the corner practicing footwork and court coverage.
    2. To ensure the safety of your walls, give your swing some margin OR buy some poster board to cushion any accidental swipes

Tennis

  1. Walls are your friend for quarantine training, as demonstrated in the Racketlon tennis challenge. 
    1. Juggle a ball against the wall at a variety of distances to develop your feel
    2. Increase the tempo for added difficulty or try alternating sides of the racket
  2. Practice your toss indoors with a ball or a ball of socks. Your toss is critical for your serve. Work on perfecting your toss indoors. 
  3. Practice lateral shuffle steps to improve your footwork. Add a racket and swings if you have room!
  4. Practice your split stepping at home with or without your racquet 
  5. Practice a smooth service motion using a long tube sock stuffed with 2 or 3 balls 

Overall 

  1. Follow a full-body exercise & fitness regime to strengthen your stamina, agility, flexibility and power. Many programs don’t require any equipment and results will certainly follow
    1. Improve your explosive movement  plyometrics such as pike jumps, box jumps and jumping squats 
    2. Use household objects as weights for shoulder press; shoulders are so important!
    3. Weighted lunges, forward and backward
    4. Wall sits (increase challenge by doing 1-leg wall sits!)
  2. Listen to podcasts about racket sports, watch and analyze competition film, and find instructional material that can help you improve your game when you get back on the court

This article was inspired by a training post we found listing “50 ways to improve your tennis game without playing tennis”. If you have any additional suggestions, we would love to hear your feedback via email or on the USA Racketlon Facebook page. Stay positive, and keep your mind on your competitive goals! A number of studies show that once a physical motion is established, it can be reinforced just by imagining it!