Ten years ago I began to play a sport that was quite unconventional. The sport of racquetball. I had heard of the sport and had a general idea of what the sport consisted of but had never played it before. One Saturday, after completing a roofing job with my friend Ortega, I decided to head to my local YMCA and begin to engage in a sport that would forever alter my destiny.
Upon seeing the size of the playing area, I was initially was startled at the size of the court. However, this feeling of surprise was overridden with a surge of intensity as I began to hit the ball against the front wall. Everything in the course of a game of racquetball is played off the front wall. After it hits the front wall a player may use the two side walls, the back wall, and the ceiling (Except on a serve) as a means to gain points.
A player may only score while he is serving, and the serve can take place anywhere within the confines of the rectangle at the front of the court. There is a safety line a few feet back from the back line of the serving area where the recipient of the serve must not cross with his racquet or body until the ball travels beyond the back server line. The game concludes when a player reaches the score of 15.
Typical lingo for the game includes such sayings as “roll out,” “kill shot,” “Hinder,” “3-wall,” and other sport specific lingo. Speeds of a typical shot be excessively fast. Therefore, given the close proximity it is highly recommended and required in all tournament play that competitors wear eye protection. Yes, eyes have been lost, and no divine healing has occurred from these injuries or miracles of biblical proportion so one should take heed to the risks involved in this game.
The game has gone through many trends and levels of interest, with the game peaking in participation in the 70s into the early 80s. Most rural areas do not see a great following of racquetball, but in metropolitan cities the game is still very popular. In Oregon, for example, given the climate, it is an ideal sport because you can play indoors. In Portland, Oregon’s largest city, the game enjoys a great following by the High School athletes. Beaverton High School, for example, is one of the prominent teams that compete in the National tournament in Missouri every year. However, at the high school level the sport is not recognized in Oregon as a sanctioned school sport so the teams must do all their own fundraising.
For me, the game has helped me through many dark and depressing times in my life. Being able to fire shots down the line of the court and hear that majestic “Sonic Boom” as it bounces off the wall is something that one cannot describe unless they experience such intensity and elation themselves. The social aspect is also great, as competitors become friends, and friends become family.