The 2013 J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions will kick off in two days at the iconic Grand Central Terminal in New York City.
A top hit on the professional tour calendar, famous for its location and atmosphere, the tournament will host a number of American contenders hoping to achieve a victory in front of their home crowd.
Three US players are straight through to the main draws – Todd Harrity, Amanda Sobhy and Latasha Khan – and top US men’s players Julian Illingworth and Chris Gordon will both compete in the qualifying draw of the men’s event tonight to attempt to earn their places in the main event.
Princeton University senior Todd Harrity was selected as the wildcard entrant to participate in the men’s event. In 2011, Harrity was the first ever American to become intercollegiate champion in the twenty-odd years since the transition to the softball game. He has also been a multiple U.S. Junior Champion, and has represented the United States on numerous occasions on the National Junior Team and National Men’s Team (including the top finishing US men’s team in history in 2011).
“It’s an amazing opportunity to play on the glass court in Grand Central Terminal. I’m most looking forward to playing in that atmosphere, ” said Harrity.
“It will be a new experience for me to play in a tournament of this level in front of a big crowd. I hope everyone cheers for me, being American! I can’t wait.”
Last year the unranked Harrity provided a major upset during the qualifying play of the JP Morgan Tournament of Champions when he defeated world #50 Cesar Salazar of Mexico in four games to reach the qualifying finals.
This Saturday, January 19, the 22 year old Philadelphian will take on England’s Tom Richards on the main court at 12.45pm in the first round of the men’s main draw.
“I feel like right now I am playing very well. I have been training hard to try to finish off my college squash career as strongly as possible, and my team is doing great. I’m feeling pretty confident at the moment.”
“I don’t know Tom Richards’ game well – but he certainly can’t know my game very well either! I’ll try my best to stay with him, compete hard and not make errors, ” Harrity said.
In the women’s event, world #19 Amanda Sobhy and #26 Latasha Khan are both straight into the main draw on their world rankings.
Sobhy, who at 19 years old is the number one female player in the United States and a professionally-ranked squash player, while also pursuing her academic studies at Harvard University, will take on world #28 Delia Arnold of Malaysia on Monday 21 January at 6:00 pm.
“Competing on home turf is always exciting! I don’t really have the chance to play many tournaments now that I am in college, so when I do play in tournaments it is always an exciting time for me. Having the home crowd cheering for me in such a prestigious tournament makes playing that much better. I’m really looking forward to it!” Sobhy said.
“I have been coming every year and it is always my favorite tournament because of the amazing set up in Grand Central and all of the spectators that its location brings.
“My game and physicality is feeling good at the moment. I’ve been training at school with the team and over break as much as possible to get read for this tournament, so I am really hoping to do well.
“I have never played Delia Arnold before so I don’t know how she plays, but I know that she is a tough player and has beaten top players before, so it will definitely be a good match, ” she said.
Latasha Khan has drawn a short straw in the event, being paired against the tournament’s top seed, Madeline Perry of Ireland, for her first match on Monday January 21 at 8.30pm.
At 39, Khan has an established career as a consistently strong international player, having been on the professional circuit for over twenty years, and the home crowd behind her it might be the backing she needs to produce an upset in the tournament in favor of the United States.
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First match times for US players in the Tournament of Champions: