Get In with Ord: Racquetball rumble

By Gus Bode

In the bright rectangle of wood and concrete that is a racquetball court, the sounds ricochet off the walls almost as much as the small rubber ball does.

All the sounds could be distracting if it did not take so much concentration to hit the ball before it bounces off the floor more than once.

For Brandon Garnett and several other members of the SIUC racquetball club, it is a concentration they are well accustomed to.


Garnett, a junior from Springfield studying architecture and the president and coach of the club, said he began playing the sport with his dad at a local health center 10 years ago. He has played competitively for seven years and is sponsored by Prokennex and Converse.

Garnett said his goal for the club is to get it back to past success. Most of the club graduated last spring, and it was dormant during the fall semester, he said.

‘ He said there are roughly 20 students in the club, with around 45 people in all. Anyone can be a member as it is not limited to SIU students.

Though the group is open to individuals of any level, there is opportunity to play competitively, Garnett said.

Several members are traveling to University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign this weekend to participate in a tournament and six members are traveling to Chicago on March 21 to compete.

Racquetball is similar to tennis, Garnett said. Both forehand and backhand shots are used, and placement is an important part of the game. Only the server can score a point, and a point is awarded when the ball hits the floor twice before an opponent can return it.

He said there are several types of hits used in the sport:’ a drive, pinch, splat, lob, slop, lag and kill are just a few of them. Deciding what shot to use or relying on reflexes to respond to an opponent’s hit can be difficult, he said.


‘You have to be very intelligent,’ he said. ‘You have to make quick decisions very, very fast.’

That quickness is something that has always been part of the game and is increasingly important, said Bill Boudet, a member of the club.

Boudet, of Murphysboro, said he began playing racquetball when he graduated high school in 1975 and continued to play until the birth of his son in 1985.

‘In that interim, the game changed,’ he said. ‘It’s faster now.’

He started again around 2003, and still loves the sport, he said.

Racquetball is something that can be played competitively regardless of age and is a lifetime sport. Unlike baseball, football and similar sports where there might not always be an option to play, racquetball can always be done, he said.

Andy Thouvenot, a junior from O’Fallon studying mechanical engineering, has not been playing as long as Boudet but said he enjoys the sport.

He said he thinks racquetball is a great workout and a good way to work off anxiety.

‘People go in there and hit the hell out of the ball as hard as they can,’ he said. ‘Working out is a good stress reliever.’

Garnett said players could run two miles in a half-hour game of racquetball. Instead of a slow running pace, though, he said it is the equivalent of sprinting that distance.

He said he enjoys the fast pace of the game and it serves as a great substitute for a cardio workout.

‘For anybody who doesn’t have the patience to sit on a treadmill for half an hour, it’s a great sport to play,’ he said.

Boudet said one of his favorite aspects of the sport is that it can be played and enjoyed regardless of skill level.

‘The first time out, you can go and have fun with it,’ he said.

Genna Ord can be reached at 536-3311 ext. 275 or [email protected]