NEWS
03/31/2016 16:31 EDT | Updated 04/01/2017 01:12 EDT

Richmond racquetball players fight court closure at South Arm Community Centre

The City of Richmond is looking at closing one of two racquetball courts at the South Arm Community Centre, but a group of racquetball players are teaming up to save their home court.

Racquetball's heyday has come and gone, but it is still a valuable physical and social activity for some, including a group of 200 players who have signed a petition asking the city to reconsider the move.

Marty Reynolds picked up a racquet 35 years ago and hasn't stopped playing since.

"I've done lots of other exercise, but this is what I like to do. I'll move mountains to get out and play for a couple of hours like this," said the 70-year old.

Murray Iseli grew up in a house across from South Arm and says even though his competition days may be over, the courts at the community centre still give him and his fellow racquetball enthusiasts a lot of joy.

"Lots of us have played in tournaments together and won championships together and leagues and different things like that," he said.

"Now that we have time to play, we thought it would be great. And now it may end and we're pretty unhappy about that."

'Quite the camaraderie'

Like most sports, playing the game is only half the fun. Meeting up with friends can make the trip to the gym or court well worth it, said one long-time Richmond resident.

"Most of us have built quite the camaraderie over these 30 years. It's not just racquetball — it's about going to meet the people that you've been enjoying for all those years," said Nicki Bianchin.

Her friend, Shawn Ho, agrees and says he enjoys the competition among friends.

Ho started playing racquetball 30 years ago because the sport complemented his main passion, martial arts.

But he says the best thing about playing the sport with friends is "trying to beat everybody else"

City's response

The city says it has met with racquetball players twice to discuss their concerns and will investigate other options for the court before making their final decision.

The move to repurpose one of the racquetball courts was based on a "decline in use," the City of Richmond told CBC in an email.

"Based on current usage, one court each would meet current needs," it wrote.

With files from CBC Radio's The Early Edition!

To listen to the full interview, click the link labelled: Racquetball players rally to keep Richmond court.