The 2013 Men’s and Women’s U.S. Championships will take place this weekend, deciding the U.S. National Champions for 2013.
Showcasing the best players from across the country, the event is being held March 8-10 at the new Chelsea Piers complex in Stamford, CT.
In the men’s draw, #1 seed Julian Illingworth looks to defend his title, and impressive eight year winning streak, against other top American players, including last year’s runner up, Christopher Gordon, who returns as #2 seed after an impressive performance at last week’s North American Open PSA World Series event.
Princeton’s Todd Harrity, fresh from a second place finish in the CSA Individual Championships, makes a tournament debut at #3, and former international professional Gilly Lane rounds out the top seeds at #4.
On the women’s side, Amanda Sobhy and Natalie Grainger return as the #1 and #2 seeds respectively. The two met in last year’s final, in which Sobhy came out on top, ending a five year winning streak for Grainger.
“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. I am definitely looking forward to a rematch with her if we end up playing this weekend” Sobhy said.
Also in the draw is Sabrina Sobhy, Amanda’s up-and-coming younger sister who at 16 years old recently won the 2013 U.S. Junior Open Championships under 19 division. If both Amanda and Sabrina win their first round matches, the sisters will meet in the semi-finals.
“This will be the first time for me and Sabrina to play together in a competition. I am going to treat her like any other opponent and set aside the fact that she is my little sister, but other than that I cannot tell you what will happen, ” said Amanda.
In the men’s division, the tournament marks the end of a two year hiatus from singles squash for Lane, after a degenerative disc forced his early retirement. While he does not anticipate a full-time comeback to professional squash, he says the time off has allowed him to “wind down and rediscover passion for the game.” For now Lane says he is focused on securing a spot on the U.S. National team.
“My biggest passion is playing and representing my country. The motivation for coming back is to go out on a better note and compete for a spot on this year’s team.”
Former national teammates Gordon and Illingworth are both pleased that Lane will be there.
“It’s great to have Gilly back on the scene – it’s good news that he has recovered enough to make an appearance at Nationals. It will certainly be a treat for all American squash fans because he brings with him a very quick, dynamic game that is always entertaining to watch!” said Gordon.
Illingworth added, “when he’s healthy, he is always dangerous.”
Christopher Gordon, who qualified for the main draw of the North American Open in February, says he hopes to “build on the momentum and confidence that [he has] built up this season” when he arrives in Stamford.
Gordon, who fell short in the finals of last year’s tournament, says a re-match with Illingworth “would be an amazing experience, but there is a lot of squash to play before we start talking about that.” Similarly modest, Illingworth admits defending his title will be “tougher this year than ever.”
“Chris is playing great, and having some good wins over top 50 players. Todd is also had a great college season, and is looking like he has taken his game up a notch, ” he added.
First round play will begin Friday, March 8 at 10am. To view draws and results, click here.