The Penn State club racquetball team will host its final regular season tournament this weekend at the Intramural Building, starting today, welcoming 15 schools from across the East Coast. This is the final tournament before the regional and national tournaments, which will be held later this month and in March, respectively.
Club President Matthew Barbuscak (junior - supply chain and information systems) said that many of the teams that will be attending the tournament are opponents the team has faced previously, allowing players to create a common bond with their opponents.
"There is that sense of competition, but there is also that camaraderie to it," Barbuscak said. "You get to play racquetball too, but you also get to make a lot of friends from different schools.
"The cool thing about the conference that we play in is that competitive tournament mindset, but because you are playing people that you know, it is also that sort of fun social event too."
Club treasurer Stefanie Nissley (sophomore - mechanical engineering) said the bonds that she has created in her two years with club racquetball are something that she looks forward to at every tournament.
"[There are] people that I really enjoy playing. It's really cool to know that there are people from UConn or Army that I know and that I'm Facebook friends with," Nissley said.
The club racquetball team will be competing in its home meet throughout the weekend, with one team composed of the top eight players from both the men's and women's rankings, and a second team of the next eight men in team ranking.
The players participate in a seeding tournament at the beginning of the year to determine rankings that will be held for the remainder of the competitive season. Players are able to challenge each other for higher rankings in an attempt to move up to a top eight position and to be eligible for tournament play.
Even though competitive, the team places emphasis on team play as well as individual.
The rules of racquetball are very similar to tennis. Singles and doubles compete in the traditionally individual sport.
However, the Penn State club racquetball team challenges those rules with its team dynamic and atmosphere.
Barbuscak said that collegiate racquetball is unique from other competitive sports because of the close bond that players create with the team in an individual sport, as well as the close relationship formed with opponents.
"Racquetball is a one player, playing against a different school, a different person, but you're also competing as a team, too," Barbuscak said. "So there is a lot of playing for yourself to win, but you're also watching your teammates... It's an interesting dynamic; it's an individual sport, which we've merged into a team sport."
Barbuscak expects the team to do well in terms of player performance this weekend, specifically from the women's team, which has done well at previous meets. But he added that he expects the atmosphere to be the deciding factor in the tournament.
"I think because it's a home tournament, it should be a lot of fun, a lot of spectators, a lot of Penn State players cheering on each other just because we have so many people in the tournament," Barbuscak said. "I am expecting a good, supporting atmosphere."