Racquetball Equipment

Regina racquetball courts are back


An outdoor field on Marty Hansen’s farm near Regina is just one example of plans to revive racquetball, a sport that once flourished in the city.

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When Regina lost her last indoor racquetball courts during the pandemic, local aficionado Marty Hansen put down his racquet and picked up a hammer.

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He built an outdoor court, similar to those that line some beaches in Hawaii and California, but which are invisible and relatively unknown in the prairies. Hansen’s backyard is tucked away in a tree-lined corner of his farm about 15 kilometers north of Saskatchewan’s capital.

” What was that ? A year without racquetball? Hansen said as he sat near his new pitch and enjoyed a post-match drink. “I built it so I could play outdoor racquetball and have fun with my buddies.”

It took Hansen three weeks and around $ 11,000 worth of concrete, plywood, paint, screws and nails to build the 13-foot-high front section and the adjacent walls, which shrink to eight feet for the part. final sides 20 feet long.

“The angles are so different for outdoor racquetball,” said Brian Mohr, one of Hansen’s regular playing partners. “We still have to make a good move. You have to really focus and of course you can’t play on the roof or on a back wall.

The concrete floor is four inches thick, smoothly finished by a contractor before Hansen applied a coarser topcoat paint for better traction. The floor accommodates the official dimensions of a racquetball court – 20 feet wide by 40 feet long, but without the roof and back wall.

Hansen enlisted the help of fellow racquetball players Dave Trembley, Graham Tamaki, Ray Wolfram and Marco Granello. A group led by Darcey Shaw donated a box of equipment, an umbrella, balls, an artificial turf to demarcate the pitch and a leaf blower to keep it clean.

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“It’s a hoot! Said Ron Duda, longtime junior coach and former member of the Racquetball Canada Board of Directors.

“The only other time I played outdoor racquetball was in Bolivia, eight years ago at the world junior championships, in a town 6,800 feet above sea level and 115 degrees Fahrenheit. We had to tell the Canadian juniors that they couldn’t play away because they would never stop and it would have exhausted them for the tournament.

A new outdoor racquetball court on a rural property outside of Regina has become popular with local players since most of the city's courts have closed in recent years.
A new outdoor racquetball court on a rural property outside of Regina has become popular with local players since most of the city’s courts have closed in recent years. Photo by Brandon Harder /Regina Chief Position

Indoor racquetball was a booming sport in the 1970s and 1980s. Unlike squash, the four walls and ceiling are brought to life by the ultra-bouncy ball, hit by a shortened version of a tennis racket as players compete in singles, doubles or cutthroat matches (three players).

There are still racquetball hotspots in South and Central America, as well as parts of the United States and Quebec, but its popularity has waned as the courts in North America have been reallocated to them. climbing walls, spin lessons, child care and storage.

The Regina Family YMCA owned the last two fields in town, but when its downtown location closed in November 2020, there was no room for Hansen, his friends and the 70-80 regular players from the city.

Handball and wallyball are also played on racquetball courts.

Evolution Fitness on Pasqua Street has since reopened one of its indoor courts, with tentative plans to put a second court back into service.

Plans are also underway for the Fit Zone Club and Courts – a 44,000 square foot multi-use facility on Winnipeg Street North, site of the former Staples call center.

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Owner Dean Puffalt rebuilt the interior of the high-roof Staples building with four glass racquetball courts that were donated to Racquetball Regina (from Racquetball Canada) after the 2015 Pan Am Games in Toronto. Puffalt also plans to have four squash courts, three pickleball courts, a fitness area, free parking and a restaurant, dubbed “The Bent Bar & Grill,” open in early 2022.

Meanwhile, Hansen invited many players to enjoy his work.

Although he added a mesh along the top wall and to one side, Hansen said it worked best when there were additional players available to chase badly hit balls bouncing around trees, the garden and pastures nearby. Racquetball Saskatchewan and Racquetball Canada have looked at funding opportunities to help offset some of Hansen’s costs.

“I didn’t build it to get funding,” Hansen said. “I built it so that people who love racquetball can play, enjoy the field and hang out with their friends outside.”

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