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The History of Racquetball


Racquetball is still quite young, as sports go.  It was invented in 1949 by Joe Sobek. Sobek was trying to find a game that was like tennis, only played indoors. He combined the games of handball and squash, ending up with a game he called "paddle rackets." Thus racquetball is a duosport: a sport created out of two existing sports, yet standing on its own as something more than the combination of the two. It is appropriate, then, that the word 'racquetball' itself is a duonym: a word created by combining two existing words into a new term that has a unique meaning that is more than the sum of its parts. 

Sobek, who was a tennis pro, created the game in Greenwich, Connecticut. The first racquetball racquet was modeled after platform tennis. Sobek had 25 of these racquets made. 

In the late 1960s, the game began growing in popularity.  The first international organization was the International Racquetball Association (IRA). This was succeeded by the American Amateur Racquetball Association (AARA). In the late 1970s and early 1980s, the sport began growing by leaps and bounds. In 1981, the first Racquetball World Championship was held, and it became an Olympic sport in 1982. 

Racquetball peaked in the mid 1980s, and some clubs converted their racquetball courts to other functions. This short decline leveled off in 1987, and racquetball began growing at a slower but more realistic rate. Today, close to 6 million Americans enjoy this wonderful sport.



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