Christopher Gordon and Natalie Grainger are the 2013 U.S. National Champions, following the finals of the 2013 U.S. Championships in Connecticut.
Completing a dream season that has presented a number of momentous occasions for the US #2, Gordon defeated come back hopeful Gilly Lane in a convincing three games, 11-5, 11-7, 11-2.
“I’ve dreamed about this since I was a little kid, I can’t quite believe it, ” Gordon said of winning the national title.
“It’s amazing to win. I haven’t won in many tournaments recently and it’s simply amazing to win something like this, ” he added.
“Personally, a huge thank you to US Squash for supporting me with their TOPS program, and helping me out with the wild card spot in the U.S. Open, which they do an amazing job with. A huge thank you to my parents, my coach, and my trainer. Without them, this never would have happened.”
26 year old Gordon began the 2012-13 season with a wild card entry into the 2012 Delaware Investments U.S. Open through which he achieved a significant win over Egyptian Hisham Ashour who at the time was over fifty world ranking positions ahead of him.
He also qualified for the main draw of the North American Open in February, playing a gripping five game main round match against world #11 Tarek Momen which lasted 85 minutes and went to an astounding 21-19 points in the fourth game.
Gordon’s world ranking has jumped from #72 in October last year, to his current position of world #58.
“I want to congratulate Gilly, he was an amazing player on the tour and cracked the top 50 in the world – something I’m still striving to do. To retire last year and come back and play squash like this is amazing. He was so tough today. Mentally, I had to stay so focused and so strong, ” said Gordon.
“Julian’s been so dominant, no one’s seemed to be able to break through him. Then when Gilly took him out last night it opened up for me a little bit, and I managed to control my emotions on the court today. It just happened, things came together when they needed to. I’m so happy.”
27 year old Lane made an impressive reappearance to the squash circuit after an almost two year hiatus from singles squash, beating American #1 Julian Illingworth in the semifinals to make it to the final of the event against Gordon.
“It hasn’t really sunk in yet. Julian is eight time national champion!” said Lane, thrilled with his impressive win against Illingworth.
Unlike the men’s draw, the women’s national championships division matches followed the seeding to a tee, leading to a repeat playoff of last year’s final between defending champion Amanda Sobhy and previous champion Natalie Grainger.
Both 35 year old Grainger and 19 year old Sobhy had a lot banking on the final. Defending champion Sobhy was vying to retain the title that she had won for the first time in 2012, and former world #1 Grainger was fighting to win back the title that she had held for five years prior.
In the end it was Grainger who had the momentum to cross the finish line, defeating Sobhy in a hard fought five game match, 8-11, 11-3, 11-3, 5-11, 11-7.
“Certainly today I had my hands full. It’s incredibly powerful as a coach to see a twelve year old develop into what Amanda is today, I’m very proud of her, ” said Grainger, who has coached Sobhy through a number of events including the 2011 Women’s World Junior Team Championships, and played with her in the national team that competed at the 2012 Women’s World Team Championships.
“It feels great – it actually feels like one of the greatest titles I’ve won. She’s a tough cookie and I’m not going to be able to keep up with her much longer, ” added Grainger.
Grainger retired from the professional tour in 2010, and as President of the Women’s Squash Association in 2011. She is now the Racquets Director at the Chelsea Piers sporting complex at which the 2013 U.S. Championships were held.
Sobhy, currently ranked world #24, had to defeat her own sister – up and coming junior 16 year old Sabrina Sobhy – to make it through to the final.
Prior to the tournament she said that a potential rematch with Grainger would be a tough one.
“Natalie has so much talent and is one of the smartest and mentally toughest players of all time, so playing her is always a challenge, ” said Sobhy.
The 2013 Men’s and Women’s US Championships wrapped up on Sunday at Chelsea Piers in Stamford, CT.
The event brought together the country’s top players, with a total of 24 American players participated in the event with a 16 player draw on the men’s side and 8 on the women’s.
To view the full draws and results, click here.