History of Racquetball

Historical Timeline

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Historical Timeline

Joseph Sobek1949:  Joseph Sobek, professional tennis and handball player, created a set of rules based on those of squash and handball and called it “paddle rackets.”

1950:  Sobek, using the tennis racket as a pattern, developed plans for a new, short strung racket.

1952:  Sobek founded the National Paddle Rackets Association.  He codified a set of rules and printed them into booklets and sent them out to continue the promotion of his new sport.

1968:  Sobek connected with Robert Kendler, head of U.S. Handball Association. Kendler was very interested in the new sport.
1968:  Sobek held The First Gut-Strung Paddle Rackets National Championship in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Robert Kendler1969:  Robert Kendler founded the International Racquetball Association. New paddle racket regulations were being discussed.
1969:  The sport officially had its new name, Racquetball, coined by San Diego tennis pro, Bob McInerny.
1969:  The first IRA National Singles was held in St. Louis, Missouri.
1969:  Dayton Glove and Racquet introduced the first metal racquet.

1970:  Bud Held, with Ektelon, introduced his first metal racquet, “Bud Muehleisen.”          

1971:  Aluminum alloy frames were introduced. The total racquet dimensions (length and width) averaged about 26 inches.

1972:  The first pro tour was formed.
Leach Swinger1972:  Fiberglass frames were introduced from Leach, located in San Diego.
1972:  The National Singles was held in Memphis, Tennessee.

1973:  After a dispute with the board of directors, Kendler parted ways with the IRA and formed the National Racquetball Club.

1974:  IRA held first pro tournament.
1974:  A new membership requirement was established for all sanctioned tournaments.  IRA membership was $3.00 per year.
1974:  The number of amateur players in the United States jumped to an estimated 3 million.

1976:  Kendler also founded the U.S. Racquetball Association (USRA) as a rival amateur organization that only lasted until 1982.
1976:  Seamco 444 becomes the official racquetball ball of the IRA.

1979:  The IRA changed its name to American Amateur Racquetball Association (AARA).
1979:  The International Amateur Racquetball Federation (now just called the International Racquetball Federation) was formed, and it included 14 countries.
1979:  Graphite frames were introduced.

1980:  The men’s pro tour was established along with the Women’s Professional Racquetball Association (WPRA).

1981:  The World Games I and The First Racquetball World Championships were held in Santa Clara, California.  The United States wins first World Cup over 6 other countries.
1981:  Penn introduces the “Ultra Blue” racquetball ball.

1982:  AARA was accepted as member of the U.S. Olympic Committee.
1982:  AARA signs racquet sponsorship with Diversified Products.

Ektelon Contra-oversized racquet1984:  The United States wins World Championships over 13 countries in Sacramento, California.
1984:  Ektelon introduces and test markets the oversized racquet.
1984:  Match rules changed from 21 points to 15 points per game, with 11 point tiebreaker.

1985:  The International Olympic Committee recognized the sport of racquetball.

1986:  A new mandatory eye guard rule is passed.
1986:  The United States and Canada tie to share the World Cup in Orlando, Florida where 20 countries competed.
1986:  The Pan American Racquetball Confederation (PARC) was formed.

1987:  The First AARA National Leadership Conference held at the U.S. Olympic Training Center.

1988:  The United States National Team wins World Cup over 22 countries.
1988:  AARA televises its National Championships for the first time ever.

1989:  Racquetball was granted full member status within the U.S. Olympic Committee. 
1989:  As the 38th sport, racquetball makes its premiere U.S. Olympic Festival appearance in Oklahoma City.

1990:  The United States wins 5th World Cup in Caracas, Venezuela over 28 countries.

1991:  AARA telecasts ten national events on cable channels.
1991:  The Unites States Team Alumni Association is formed.
1991:  Racquetball was placed on the schedule for the Pan American Games in 1995.

Racquetball Magazine-US wins 6th World Cup1992:  The United States wins 6th World Cup in Montreal over 33 countries.

1993:  AARA celebrates 25th Silver Anniversary.

1994:  The United States wins 7th World Cup in San Luis Potosi over 27 countries.
1994:  IRF adopts “one serve” rules in international competition.

1995:  Racquetball makes its debut in the Pan American Games in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and the United States National Team sweeps medal count.

1996:  U.S. Open Racquetball Championships debut in Memphis with pros and amateurs in a single event, played on a specially-constructed “made for TV” glass court.
1996:  The United States wins 8th World Cup team title.

1997:  The IRA changes its name again to United States Racquetball Association (USRA).
1997:  USRA changes rule to allow oversized frames of 22” in length.  Total length and width is approximately 32”, about 25% larger than original racquets which resulted in 50% more hitting area for more power.

1998:  The United States wins 9th World Cup team title.

1999:  The United States sweeps medal platform again at the 13th Pan American Games held in Winnipeg.

2000:  Canada wins the 10th World Cup team title for the first time over the U.S.
2000:  The Ladies Professional Racquetball Association was formed under the guidance of the USRA.

2003:  The IRA changed its name for the final time to USA Racquetball (USAR).

2010:  Newly designed all glass portable court makes U.S. Open debut at new location in Minneapolis.

 

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