2022 Christmas edit: This article failed miserably. The social media response was to denigrate the chosen places. Not a single person championed their own area. Disappointment.
I’ve lived in quite a few cities in my 50 years on this planet (benefit of being an army brat / habit picked up by being an army brat) and one of the things that is bothersome about my current residence is the lack of open local indoor racquetball courts. (The closest indoor courts open are in Riverside, California and Canoga Park, California, each of which is 1.5 – 2 hours away, and in traffic even longer.)
My commitment in the Los Angeles area is complete, so I am looking at other options for work and residence. One of the big factors in that decision will be the racquetball scene.
What does it take for a city to have a good racquetball scene?
In no particular order.
- Lots of court facilities, ideally owned by different companies, so that economic woes or new member sales strategies at one nationwide chain doesn’t shut down the city.
- Regular tournaments. I prefer the shootout style, where play is round-robin or pool play with semifinals/finals to the traditional one-and-done. So the ideal area already has that baked into their events.
- Junior involvement. I don’t have any kids myself, but it would be ideal if there was an existing junior program in place that I could support with my time or with equipment donations.
- College involvement. Currently, colleges are the best option for getting new players to embrace this lifetime sport. The students are at an age where new ideas / activities are embraced and time is relatively plentiful. If I can’t support a junior program, I will definitely support a college club towards the goal of competing at the USAR Intercollegiate Championships (whenever that is allowed to return).
- Outdoor play available. I like the idea of outdoor racquetball more than the reality of the time spent chasing the ball between rallies. A good outdoor court will have a relatively close fence to keep that distraction down to a minimum. The courts at Florin High School in Sacramento fit the bill pretty well.
- A community that communicates well. A city-wide Facebook group that actually has discussions and new players coming in and getting set up with the closest local players is a good place to start. A Discord or Reddit/subreddit or similar dedicated forum that is “in use” would also work for me. A WhatsApp group would even be acceptable. An email mailing list at the very worst. Players that are actively engaged in helping themselves and others play the game is beyond positive.
Where do I think are the current best places for these things, from what I am seeing online?
or, what are my current top 4 places that meet my needs as listed above?
Atlanta Georgia, Austin Texas, Phoenix Arizona, Las Vegas Nevada.
All of these locations have drawbacks as well. We’ll go over each one a bit.
Lots of courts, regular events, poor junior involvement, poor college involvement, outdoor non-existent, and the former FB discussion groups are dead silent. They are on the forefront of bringing events back, having multiple pro-involved tournaments during the 2020 and 2021 years. I am unlikely to return to Atlanta except to visit Recreation ATL and Jason Chan, but I would strongly recommend it to others looking for the same types of things that I mention above.
Georgia Racquetball Players Association discussion group on FB
Georgia Women’s Racquetball discussion group on FB
A fair number of courts with a variety of community centers and different corporations involved, regular events throughout 2020 and 2021, junior involvement struggling but on the rise, good college involvement (University of Texas racquetball club and the Longhorn Open), outdoor non-existent, and the FB group gets more posts from me than from locals. Austin is bad for me economically, I have always had trouble competing with the thousands of other ex-Dell employees, so I am unlikely to return without first securing an amazing job opportunity.
Austin Racquetball discussion group on FB
A good number of facilities – lots owned by LA Fitness / Esporta but plenty of other options as well, regular outdoor events – haven’t seen anything indoor in 2020 or 2021 so far, not sure on junior involvement – could use some insight, same insight needed for college involvement – the college players I know in the area play at LA Fitness, outdoor is strong and well coordinated daily, and their discussion group gets replies and is helpful to players new to the area. Top candidate for my next move, as of February 8, 2020, anyway.
Phoenix Metro Outdoor Racquetball discussion group on FB
Indoor courts are dominated by the Las Vegas Athletic Clubs but there are also a number of community centers including the Chuck Minker Sports Complex that have done well by racquetball in the past, the only really well advertised tournament is the 3Wall Ball World Championships, no junior involvement that I’m aware of, the College of Southern Nevada has courts but I haven’t heard anything about players or a club, and their Facebook discussion group has gone silent. Definitely a great visit, not sure how the city is for long term dwelling. Henderson is probably the suburb I would go with as their community centers are supportive of racquetball.
Las Vegas Racquetball Players discussion group on FB
Honorable mentions that meet most of my criteria but are not good choices for me personally:
St. Louis, Missouri
San Antonio, Texas
What did I miss? Why should your city be in the top 4 places to play racquetball in the US? Drop me a line on the Contact page if you want to answer privately, or drop a comment or 6 on Reddit / Facebook / MeWe / Twitter.