Jesper Ratzer (credit: fairplayfoto.com) is the new number one in World Racketlon (Oct. 2012). The 30-year-old Dane has not lost a match in singles this year yet and is only the fifth male athlete to hold the top position on the FIR World Rankings in singles. For the last three years (38 months) in a row Christoph Krenn was the best player of the world, before the Austrian it was Swede Magnus Eliasson, who held the position for the record of over 6 years (77 months). Good news for the female fans of the former Badminton player, the vice-world champion Ratzer is single again too. Read all about him and his addiction to Racketlon in his long but exciting interview with FIR-President Marcel Weigl below.
You are only the fifth male player in history to become world number one, do you know the other four?
Who is the 5th? I thought there had only been Christoph Krenn, Magnus Eliasson and Mikko Kärkkäinen.
Stefan Adamsson was on top for one month. Anyhow, how does it feel for you?
It feels awesome! I've actually never had "becoming world nr. 1" as one of my specific goals, but now that it happened, it feels like I've achieved something big, and I'm very proud of myself:)
What was your first contact to Racketlon?
Two twin brothers from my old badminton club invited me to play the new sport "padel". Padel is in some way a combination of squash, badminton and tennis. After playing, we talked about how cool it would be, if a real combination sport for rackets existed. One of the twins then said: "well it actually does exist, it’s called Racketlon". I don't know from where he knew, because at that time only Emil Bergander played it seriously in Denmark. I went home, googled it, and found an introduction video where Ray Jordan talked about it.
So then you immediately started to practice?
As soon as I found out about Racketlon, I was convinced that it was the sport for me. I watched the 2009 final in Löhne between Krenn and Kärkkäinen on youtube, and I thought to myself that I would be able to beat them straight away. I was very wrong!:) I played my first tournament at the Austrian Open and WC Teams in 2010, and I lost the first round in Mens B against Martin Franken from the Netherlands. I was quite shocked about the high level of particularly table tennis, but also squash and tennis. After that wake-up-call I registered at a squash and table tennis club in Denmark, and I've been practicing there for almost 2 years now.
How much and how do you practice?
I try to train every day. Sometimes that’s not possible because of work and other stuff though. Training more than that doesn’t make too much sense for me, since the intensity drops, and my restitution gets worse. I usually train table tennis and squash every other day, since table tennis is not as physically hard. I play a few team matches in badminton now and then, but hardly ever train badminton. I haven’t trained a lot of tennis either, but in the near future I will try to implement one weekly practice session of tennis every week.
What is the secret of your success in Racketlon?
I think one of the most important things for improving in Racketlon, is to establish good training environments, preferably with coaches who are willing to give you feedback. In squash I practice in a club with some of Denmark’s best players, which means that I compete against better players all the time. A lot of Racketlon players come from one sport, and have to learn three new ones. To my luck, I’ve been playing lots of badminton and tennis since I was a little child, so I “only” had to learn two new sports. I think my analytical personality has helped my also. I analyse my opponents and get better and better at playing them each time. I also love to break down the different techniques and tactics, and I’ve spent a lot of time watching technique on youtube or live when I see good players in action.
What fascinates you about Racketlon?
I love Racketlon. Sometimes I think of nothing elseJ. It has given me back my passion for training, and my curiosity for learning new things. I love the intensity and nerve of the games, the tactical aspects and the prestige or “happy-feeling” that goes with winning.
Do you have any sponsors to finance your desire for Racketlon?
I have a sponsor for all my equipment, but I need a sponsor to take care of all my travel costsJ. Now that I’m world nr. 1, I think I will start looking for that. So far I have paid all the tournaments out of my own pocket - and from the prize moneyJ.
What are your future goals in Racketlon?
My goal in Racketlon is simple: I want to be the best! I want to continue improving, and I’m aiming towards “specialist level” in both table tennis and squash. I also want to become world champion! I’ve always wanted to be the best in the world in somethingJ
Rumors say that Magnus Eliasson will comeback in Stockholm? Have you ever met him?
No, but I would love to. I’ve heard that he has won no less than 36 tournaments, and that he was a very intimidating and mentally strong player. I hope he does play free of injuries and can knock out one or the other top player.
Is it true you invented player cards for international Racketlon players?
I used to play the “car cards game” when I was younger, and I thought it would be fun to make a Racketlon edition. The players on tour love to compare players in the four categories and guess on results during the tournaments. That’s where the idea came from.
When will we see the first international Racketlon tournament in Denmark?
I’m not sure. I think we have established enough interest to do a quite big local or challenger tournament. There has been a lot of talk about it within the Danish player group, and hopefully it will be a reality soon. I think it’s the next big step for the development of Racketlon in Denmark.
What do you do with the rest of your time?
I work as a doctor in a neurology (brain- and nerve diseases) department close to Copenhagen. I've just started my residency period, which means that I will be a specialist in neurology in about 4 years. Besides working and training Racketlon, I really don't do much more:) Training four sports eats up a lot of time, and I often feel like I haven’t got time enough for my friends.
Is the best player in the world already engaged?
Actually I became single again only a month ago. Probably I was playing too much Racketlon!
Anything else you want to tell the Racketlon world?
DonDon`t do drugs - do hugs. Stay in school and play RACKETLON!
Once again congratulations and good luck for the upcoming World Championships!
FIR-President Marcel Weigl