This October, the U.S. Open Squash Championships have returned to Drexel University’s campus at the Arlen Specter U.S. Squash Center. The U.S. Open is one of the biggest events in the national squash calendar and the most notable figures in squash are there to play.
This year’s event has been full of surprises in the early rounds as it gears up for the latter stages of the tournament. For the first time in the Open’s history, three American women made the round of 16 in the tournament, all winning their matches on Oct. 9 at the Specter Center. The Sobhy sisters, Amanda and Sabrina, both made it through. Along with Olivia Blatchford Clyne. U.S. number one and four seed at the tournament, Amanda Sobhy, won her match in clinical-style over South African Alexandra Fuller; 11-2, 11-5, 11-8. The surprises of the night came from her sister Sabrina and Blactchford-Clyne.
Sabrina Sobhy, the younger of the Sobhy’s pair, had a challenge to overcome against Canadian WR 16, Hollie Naughton, four places above Sobhy. Sobhy took the first game with a convincing 11-3 scoreline, although went on to lose the next two games 11-8,11-9. Undeviated,, Sobhy won her next two games 11-7, 11-8, to win the match 3-2. The younger Sobhy went on to produce the biggest upset of her career over WR 2 Hania El Hammammy on Tuesday night with a 11-8, 13-15, 11-7 and 11-9 win to delight the home crowd.
Next up, and the last of the American women isWR 22, Blatchford Clyne against Egyptian Farida Mohamed, WR 15. Things seemed to go in the way for the higher-ranked Egyptian, who won the first game 11-2. However, Blatchford Clyne spurred on by the vocal U.S. home-crowd dug deep to eventually win the match 11-8, 14-12 and 11-6 to the delight of the home crowd.
After her match, Blacthford Clyne was quoted in U.S. Squash saying “It feels incredible,” said the winner.
“It’s not the win, although that feels amazing, and I’m so excited to be on the glass court on Tuesday and yes, being surrounded by my family and friends is incredible. But it was the last match on with the whole back wall being packed and 99.9% of the people cheering for me and the atmosphere was electric. I felt that for the first time in a long time, I was so present in each rally and even when things went wrong I was really there,” (U.S Open Squash).
Both Sobhy sisters made the quarter finals, although Clyne ended up losing out to Egyptian player Salma Hany in straight games. The home crowd has been loud and vocal for all of the American players so far, and with the matches heating up we can only expect more.
On the men’s team, Todd Harrity was the only American player to make it through to the round of 32, eventually losing out to Colombian player Miguel Rodriguez in straight sets. Four other American men; Timmy Brownell, Shahjahan Khan, Faraz Khan and Spencer Lovejoy all competed in the first rounds, but did not make it through.
In one of the shocks of the tournament so far, defending champion, Mostafa Asal, has been disqualified after his match against Frenchman Lucas Serme. After winning the first two games 11-6, 11-6 and being 6-4 up, Asal hit Serme in the ear at full speed with the ball, which was deemed avoidable by the referees. Serme was promptly taken to the hospital, and he had to concede the match. Per the rules of squash, if you injure your opponent in such a way that they cannot return to play the match, the match is awarded to your opponent.
On his Instagram account,he posted “Definitely not the way I thought I would end this year’s US Open. I am okay, I suffered a mild concussion and a pierced eardrum.” He also offered his condolences to his opponent, Asal, “It was an accident and he never meant for anything bad to happen, it is really unfortunate that this match ended that way for the both of us.”
The finals of the U.S. Open will be held on Saturday Oct. 15th at the Arlen Specter U.S. Squash Center right here on campus. Drexel students can enter to watch the event for free by showing their Dragon Card upon entry to watch the world’s best squash players compete for the coveted title.