In its first season, the team has “brought awareness of the sport to Liberty University as well as to the community and the Sports Racket,” said Kirk Handy, director of Club Sports.
He said more than 60 student-athletes came to Liberty’s home courts, located about 15 minutes from campus, for the first tournament in October 2011. Players, coaches and spectators filled the upper-level viewing room to watch the players compete on five courts.
The 35-year-old indoor tennis and racquetball facility also includes five tennis courts, a locker room and a gym. It is open for student and community use, including over 300 members. It was donated to Liberty in February 2011 by Sherwin Cook, a member of Liberty’s Board of Trustees.
The next racquetball tournament, held this Friday through Sunday (Jan. 20-22), will feature teams from the Mid-Atlantic Conference, including the University of Virginia, University of North Carolina, Roanoke College, Appalachian State University, North Carolina State University, University of Maryland, The College of William & Mary, Duke and Virginia Tech. The tournament is free and open to the public.
There are currently nine players on Liberty’s roster. Head coach Danny Rodriguez said the team is gaining popularity.
“The players go back to their dorms, and they talk about what’s going on with all of their friends,” he said. “You’ll see a lot of college students who are playing racquetball in the evenings. In fact, I’ve had a few ladies email me and ask me when they’re going to have a team.”
Due to growing interest, a women’s team will be formed this semester and will be competing in Fall 2012.