History Of Racquetball

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HISTORY OF RACQUETBALL In the 1940’s a man named Joseph G. Sobek got tired of how hard handball was on his hands. He was dissatisfied with the indoor sports. He worked at a rubber factory in Bridgeport, CT when he decided to start a new sport. He lived in Greenwich, CT and was professional tennis player and a pro squash and handball player. It is said that in 1949, Sobek and a partner began playing with a paddle and combined the rules of handball and squash to play what they called “paddle racquets.” He then decided to change from a paddle to a racquet itself using a tennis racquet as a model. He made 25 to sell to his friends to start the sport. There was one problem though; there were faults in the ball. Sobek then found a Spalding ball made for children that work well. He bought a lot of them and sold him to his friends in 1950 to keep his sport from dwindling out. Sobek eventually started his own company to make his own ball to his exact specifications for the game. In 1952 Sobek started the Paddle Racquet Association. He then put together a set of rules and printed them out and started putting together a promotional package for his Paddle Racquet to different YMCA’s to promote the sport. He also set up clinics so that new players could learn how to play the sport. In 1968, Sobek started talking to the head of the US Handball Association, Robert Kendler. In 1968 the National Paddle Racquet Association held the very first racquetball tournament called the Gut-Strung Paddle Rackets National Championship. It was held in Milwaukee. The next year Kendler started the International Racquetball Association, and racquetball got its official name. To help get the name of the sport out and bring more players in Sobek kept doing his clinics to teach the new players. Kendler used the Handball magazine, ACE, to advertise the sport and tell people about the game in articles and advertisements. Then the International Racquetball had their first tournament in St. Louis in 1969. Then after the tournaments the sport saw a lot of new players in the 1970’s. The games equipment sale went through the roof and more and more companies began making the equipment. By 1974, there were over 3 million racquetball players in the U.S. In 1973, Kendler separated himself from the IRA, do to disputes in the board, he went on to start the National Racquetball Club and the US Racquetball Association, which both of them went bankrupt in the early 1980’s though.
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