The Tempe SDFC will close three of their racquetball courts

The closure will result in ASU no longer hosting national racquetball tournaments

The racquetball courts have been a part of the Tempe SDFC since the opening of the ASU building in 1989. However, this summer the SDFC will close three of the 14 courts.

Julie Kipper, the executive director for all of the Sun Devil Fitness Complexes, said in an email statement that their goal is to offer a variety of programs for ASU students, so they must “evaluate how all spaces in the SDFC are utilized at our four locations.” 

The SDFC has made no decisions about the repurposing of the courts, but the decision will be made with all ASU students in mind, Kipper also said.

“I can say with certainty we will still have racquetball courts available for our users,” the statement read.

Kipper also said there is no date set for the closure, but they want to prepare the space for fall 2017.

Darrin Schenck, the racquetball coach and class instructor, said the three courts being removed are upstairs and don’t include the main court. 

Schenck also said he wants to stop the rumors that the SDFC was taking out as many as nine courts and replacing the main court with golf simulators.

“At the end of the day, the only thing it really affects is the fact that we can’t have national tournaments there anymore,” he said. “The club and the team stuff stays the same. The classes won’t be affected. We can still host local tournaments.”

Schenck said if ASU wants to host national tournaments, they must have all 14 courts because they can't expect attendees to stay longer for a tournament where there are less courts.

Schenck also said he thinks the university is being very considerate in their decision to remove the three courts despite not being able to host national tournaments any longer.

“They’re doing this to find something that impacts more ASU students,” he said. “National events don’t really impact that many students.”

Meilia Brooks, a junior studying biochemistry and psychology, said she played racquetball for the first time when she did a summer math program at ASU while she was still in high school.

Brooks also said when she came to ASU, she sought out the racquetball program, and now she has been playing for three years for the racquetball club and the competition team.

“I think the use (of the courts) is greatly underestimated,” she said. “They’ll turn the lights off on us. They just didn’t know we were there somehow. They’re doing a walkthrough to check for usage. How can you not see that we’re in the courts?”

Brooks said that when she thought the removal of the courts was going to be more extensive, she started a petition.

Now, Brooks said she will likely stop petitioning because the decision to remove the three courts has already been made, and she doesn’t think it will make much of a difference anymore.

“All we can do at this point is, in the coming year, fill the courts,” she said.

Brooks said she wished the decision wasn't made with such short notice.

“We found out with like a month left,” she said. “I guess they’re not obligated to tell us, but it’s also like I’m paying to use the facility. I want to know what’s there and what’s going to still be there.”

Jessie Lubold, a senior studying nutrition, said she made the switch from tennis to racquetball her freshman year and has played for ASU’s team ever since.

“They blindsided us with the fact that they’re taking the courts out,” she said. “They didn’t really tell us until it was too late.”

Lubold said even though it’s only three courts for now, she fears that next year they will take more out.

“It’s pretty frustrating to be honest,” she said. “Racquetball has been by far one of the best experiences I’ve had at ASU. I can’t imagine my experience at ASU without it.”

Ryan Patterson, a junior studying computer science, currently plays for ASU's team and said he started playing racquetball about four years ago before attending ASU.

“I felt like (only removing three courts) was a more fair decision because at first we heard it was just the whole bottom row of courts,” he said. “I wasn’t OK with that. The fact that they’re only taking out three from the top, I’m pretty OK with it.”

Patterson said he won’t be able to attend the national events if ASU doesn’t host them because they're held out-of-state, but he knows not many ASU students attend their national events.

“I’m sad that the three courts are going to be taken out,” he said. “At the same time, I’m glad that they decided not to take out more than that.”


Reach the reporter at anbuechl@asu.edu or follow @alexa_buechler on Twitter.

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