Racquetball courts see heightened use in winter months

by Kristin SimpsonStaff Writer

It’s 3:18 on a Tuesday afternoon. You stop to seek shelter in Cowles Center from the cold, howling wind as you walk back from class. Once inside, you see a small crowd of people milling around on some benches in the new wing of Cowles. They’re wearing workout clothes and have their game faces on. You hear lots of small thumps and squeaky shoes. What’s going on?

Racquetball. It’s that time of year. As the temperature gets lower, the courts get busier.

Due to the cold weather and the completion of fall sports, the two regulation racquetball courts, Hubbell Court and Kent Court, can be found buzzing with activity at this time of year, according to junior Brooke Irlmeier.

Sophomore Casey Dunning speculates that racquetball is appealing because it can be physically challenging and is great for fall athletes who are looking for a way to keep active in the offseason and stay in shape without going outside in the cold.

“It feels more athletic than, say, ping-pong because you’re actually getting something out of it,” Dunning said. “It’s a pretty solid cardio workout.”

Sophomore Brett DeNeve uses racquetball as something to do with his buddies during the day. He likes to go when the athletic teams are lifting. He isn’t the only one with that idea. According to Irlmeier, 3:30 is the most popular time of the day for racquetball fanatics. However, you don’t have to be a regular on the courts to enjoy the game.

“It’s a good way to get a lot people involved and have fun,” Irlmeier said.

Irlmeier said he usually plays with two players to a team. Teams alternate serving and receiving, with players taking turns hitting the ball to the front wall. On its way back to the front wall the ball may only hit one other wall, without hitting the floor more than once. Games are usually played to 15 points, and best out of three wins the match. As the ball flies around the court, says Irlmeier, it’s easy to get into the game.

“I like it because I’m really competitive,” Irlmeier said.

It’s that competitive edge of racquetball that many players find attractive. However, DeNeve says it can get intense-maybe too intense.

“Just have fun with the game, but don’t get too involved, and try to remain friends afterwards,” DeNeve said.

Once the game is learned, it needs to be perfected. According to Dunning, there’s always a drive to keep practicing for improvement.

“It takes a lot of skill to play so you’re always learning new things,” Dunning said. “Your personal game is constantly evolving.”

Since only two-to-four players are needed to play, Dunning says racquetball games are easy to start.

“I think people are drawn to playing it because you don’t need many players,” Dunning said. “It’s easy to get a game together.”

As more and more give racquetball a try, however, many are left sitting on the benches outside of the courts, watching and waiting for their turn.

“It’d be a great addition to Cowles to add a couple more courts to reduce congestion,” Dunning said.

Although you may have to wait, the courts are available to anyone who wants to give racquetball a try.

According to Irlmeier, it’s a great game, whether you’re playing to be active or simply for a good time.

“It’s fun and a good workout,” Irlmeier said.