Racquetball is the fastest-growing sport at UNM.
For eight years, the UNM racquetball club team has practiced and played on the top-level courts at Johnson Center.
Ray Gomez, who has been on the team for three years, said that the club has expanded.
“In my first year, we maybe had eight people, and now we have around 20,” he said.
Since the racquetball team is a club sport at the University, like hockey and rugby club teams, the UNM racquetball club receives little funding. Fundraisers and members’ money support the team. The UNM club is a part of the United States Racquetball Association, which allows the squad to play in national tournaments.
Andrew Moser, who is been a member of the club for four years, said that two years ago, the USRA set up a five-year plan to have the sport be recognized by the NCAA.
“Hopefully within the next three years we will be NCAA-sponsored and become a scholarship sport,” he said. “At that point, (college) racquetball can take things to the next level because right now, we’re very individualistic. Teams are very unique to college.”
Racquetball can be played solo or in pairs, but Moser said that at the college-level, they play individually and in nationals.
The UNM racquetball team competes against regional teams instead of Mountain West Conference teams because funding is so miniscule, Moser said. He said that UNM plays Utah, Colorado, Colorado State, Arizona, Arizona State and some Texas schools.
“We would try and travel a couple times throughout the year and try and play these teams,” Moser said. “Maybe we would meet in Utah and Colorado would meet us there to and play a little tournament. That would be pre-nationals and help us out with rankings.”
This season the UNM racquetball team took 15th place in the national’s tournament in April, but it’s just as much an individual sport.
The first-place finisher at the national tournament earns a spot on the U.S. national racquetball team that competes in the Olympics.
Gomez said he lives for the sport, but there are others who play strictly for enjoyment. No matter their skill levels, Gomez said old and new club members have developed a tight-knit relationship.
“You just come and have fun and try,” he said. “If you like it, learn to love and just keep working at it. We have people who just love to play and they always show up.”