Interviews

The racquets are gone

“We have closed our doors after 33 years of business. Thank you to all who were apart of this experience. Forever grateful!”

As of late 2015, the legendary Sorrento Valley Racquetball & Fitness Center, that sat between the 805 and 5 freeways, is now closed.

“That club had been the centerpiece of San Diego for racquetball and paddleball for 40 years,” Charlie Brumfield said, “John [Brumfield] my cousin, had been the proprietor for the large majority of that time and what ended up happening was that the real estate in Sorrento Valley got increasingly more valuable, to the point where if they put a brewery in that location, the landlord can get three to four times the rent than a paddleball and racquetball club would support.”

On Feb. 20, many players from the now defunct SVRFC reunited at the World Gym in Eastlake for the “Super Shootout,” a kid’s paddleball tournament held by another Racquetball World Champion, Jackie Paraiso.

Between the matches, Charlie and Paraiso played a doubles match of paddleball, which is an earlier and slower version of racquetball.

The two sports are similar in gameplay within the four wall confines. The differences are: the structure and size of the racquets, the size and travel-speed of the ball, and points scored to win.

On Feb. 20, Charlie Brumfield played paddleball with Joy Paraiso and others at World Gym (Eastlake).

Paraiso and her family were hosting both type of tournaments at the Sorrento Valley spot for years, and she’d been playing there before she won her first world championship playing doubles with Michelle Gould (née Gilman) in 1990.

“It was very sad for everybody,” Paraiso said, “without a place to meet for the social aspect of the game, everybody dispersed.”

Aaron Embry was a teacher of both racquetball and paddleball at the SVRFC and recalls the “racquet heydays” with many San Diego Chargers playing the sport including Dan Fouts and Charlie Joyner.

“Racquetball is a very social game, you have to have two people, usually it’s four, you have to get along and you usually do something afterwards,” Embry said, “[SVRFC] was like “Cheers” with a racquetball court.”

Embry also mentioned that SVRFC had a liquor license, and drinking a beer between the games was the norm. Watching your favorite pro from the section atop or on ground floor through the glass was also a treat.

Jerry also played at the 10999 Sorrento Valley Rd. address for years before injuring his knee diving for a racquetball.

“Both [businesses] serve or served beers,” Jerry said, “but only one racket can make a legacy!”

Author: Mike Madriaga


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