Sports

Prince Rupert racquet centre seeing increased numbers

Richard Haley prepares to take a shot at the Prince Rupert Racquets Centre on Saturday. - Kevin Campbell photo
Richard Haley prepares to take a shot at the Prince Rupert Racquets Centre on Saturday.
— image credit: Kevin Campbell photo

It's not an ideal city for tennis, but what Prince Rupert lacks in sunny days it makes up for in its indoor racquet facility and the Prince Rupert squash club has taken full advantage it.

The latest seven-week league is just wrapping up at the Prince Rupert Racquet Centre and their player- base has recently seen a rise.

"We spread it out to eight teams, three [players] per team and we play every Wednesday night," explained member Richard Haley.

"Afterwards, we have a few beers, play ping pong, darts, whatever, and have a social ... It's all-encompassing. From advanced to novice, everyone can play."

The facility, run by the Prince Rupert Racquets Association and built in the early 1980s, has seen recent renovations revive the second floor into a hardwood social haven with a TV and a bar area fitted with recreational games like fooseball and ping pong. The centre plays host to children's birthday parties and other functions. Davit and Kirsten Dzavashvili's Red Shadow Boxing business also calls the building home.

The centre's squash courts host the league's games, and yearly tournaments, which Haley said attract a good number of players.

"We have about one tournament and one doubles tournament... Next year, the plan is to have two major tournaments and they usually draw players from Smithers, certainly, and also from Terrace. Roughly in the neighbourhood of 35 to 40 people attend," said Haley.

The court fiend, who also plays tennis and badminton, is looking to gain more people for the league and there is an opportunity to claim top spot.

"We want to attract more new players who haven't maybe played squash before and they can start at that lower level. There's lots of competition at the lower level right now," he said.

"We have a lot of players that have played here for a long time but, frankly, they're getting older so we need the new players to move up."

Haley, who started playing the game in university in Victoria made sure his new home had a squash facility.

"That's the first thing I went to," he said.

For people looking to get a rigorous workout that's easy to get into, Haley says squash is a perfect match.

"For fitness, hardly anything touches squash because it's just 45 minutes to an hour of just concentrated workout. The breaks between games, if you're playing in a tournament, are 90 seconds ... and then between serves, it's just a matter of seconds so it's going, going, going constantly and it's in a condensed amount of time. People don't have a ton of time."

Haley also runs impromptu Sunday night training sessions with drills and exercises, but anyone who wants to get better are welcome to challenge players slightly ahead of them in talent level as another way to improve.

"Everybody here's willing to play anybody, it's a super friendly club," he said, adding that the facility has many loaner racquets at the ready for interested newcomers.

The club is looking to start a summer league in the coming weeks for those who are looking to stay in the city during the warmer season. It would last anywhere between seven and 14 weeks depending on the number of participants.

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