Racquetball courts to remain at RSF after petition garners attention

Amy Shen/Staff

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After an overwhelming response from members of the racquet sports community, the Recreational Sports Facility has decided to reverse its decision announced Friday to convert racquetball and squash courts into space for new cardio equipment.

On Saturday, members of the racquet sports community sent a petition —  which garnered more than 500 signatures —  to the RSF management asking that the RSF suspend plans to begin a project that would replace one squash and two racquetball courts with space for additional exercise equipment. The project, when finished, would have provided additional room for new cardio machines ordered.

At a meeting with representatives from the RSF held Tuesday, members of the racquet sports community, including Cal racquet sports clubs, expressed concerns that this move would result in a dwindling club membership and decrease their ability to host tournaments. In response to these objections, the RSF announced Tuesday that it would not remove the courts.

“(The) leadership group met with representatives of the court community, and as a result of the positive feedback and energy we received, we have developed an alternative plan that will not result in the loss of any court space,” said Andy Davis, an RSF spokesperson.

As part of the Student Health Wellness Referendum, a referendum passed by UC Berkeley students in 2015 to provide funding for health and wellness initiatives on campus, new cardio machines will be installed in the RSF during the summer. But because the current exercise space could not accommodate new cardio equipment ordered, the RSF had originally decided to move a portion of the machines into the racquet ball courts.

Several signers of the petition, including ASUC President Will Morrow, noted concerns that the RSF did not properly consult students before making the decision to eliminate the three courts.

“My concerns were primarily in regards to how this decision was made and that there was not enough student input from the students who would be most impacted by this decision,” Morrow said.

Since the Tuesday meeting, RSF director of marketing, communications and business development Joe Watz consulted with the company from which the equipment was purchased, Lifestyle Fitness, to review plans to install the machines without removing the courts.  

The RSF currently houses six squash and five racquetball and handball courts, which are used by Cal racquet sports clubs, students and members of the community.  

Cal handball club coach Steven Chen said he was pleased that the racquet sports community and the RSF were able to work together to retain playing space while allowing for accommodation of the new equipment.

“I’m glad that they … listened to the community and the players and coaches and captains and found an alternate solution to protect our courts for current and future players for our sport,” Chen said.

Cassandra Vogel is an assistant news editor. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @cass_vogxz.

A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that members of the racquet sports community met with the Recreational Sports Board of Governors on Tuesday. In fact, representatives of the RSF present at the meeting included Joe Watz and Brigitte Lossing and not the Recreational Sports Board of Governors.