The eleven young men and women representing the United States in the 2015 World Junior Championships in Eindhoven, Holland, have been announced.
The 2015 World Junior Championships commence with the annual men’s and women’s World Junior Individual Championships July 26-30, followed by the biennial women’s World Junior Team Championship July 31-August 4.
The past two editions of the women’s World Junior Team Championships in 2011 and 2013 saw the U.S. contingents record their best finishes on the world junior stage—second place.
Led by Head Coach Scott Devoy and Assistant Coach Lynn Leong, Team USA’s Sabrina Sobhy, Reeham Sedky, Kayley Leonard, and Casey Wong will aim to deny favorites Egypt a fifth consecutive title. Hayley Scott and Eleanor Evans also join the women’s fold and will compete in the individual competition.
“We have an experienced group with Sabrina, Reeham, Kayley and Casey having all competed in at least one world junior event, ” Devoy said. “With strong second place finishes in the past two team events, we will be looking to emulate those results. Other countries will be stronger than previous years, but a top four result is something that is a realistic opportunity. Individually, we are looking for each girl to improve on previous results.”
For Sobhy, Sedky and Leonard, the World Junior Championships will mark their last U.S. appearance on the world junior level, while Scott and Evans make their maiden appearances for the stars and stripes in world competition. Sobhy and Leonard will be teammates at Harvard in the fall, while Sedky will attend the University of Pennsylvania.
“It is always an honor to represent your country on the world stage; it is recognition of hard work and dedication to the sport, ” Devoy added. “Playing against the best in the world brings out the best in players, and the U.S. girls are clearly toward the top of the tree and working hard to cement their status.
“It has been a pleasure to work with such a talented and committed group. The support we receive from US Squash is invaluable and means that we can strive to achieve the best results possible. We are excited for the challenges ahead this year and look forward to showing the world that we are ever-improving and always tough to beat.”
Sobhy and Sedky have won the past four U.S. junior national titles between them, with Sedky having defeated Sobhy to win her first junior national title in March. Sobhy will enter the individual draw as one of the top seeds, and as one of the highest ranked players at world No. 51.
“I’d like to improve on my sixth-place finish last year, but most importantly play well and enjoy being out there in my final junior competition for the U.S., ” Sobhy said. “I know my teammates really well, and I think we have a good chance. I know we’ll all be really competitive and want to do the best that we can. Obviously, Egypt are the favorites, but I think we’ll really be able to push them with this group.”
“Our coaching staff really is the best, ” Sobhy continued. “They know us well individually, which is important, and they know what we need to do to prepare for tournaments and put us in the best position possible.”
“It’s a huge honor to represent the U.S., ” Sobhy said. “It’s important for us to set a good example for the younger players, as well as representing ourselves well around other countries by being sportsmanlike, friendly and respectful.”
Timmy Brownell and Max Reed, two members of the 2014 junior men’s team, return for the 2015 men’s junior individual competition. Joining them are U.S. junior champion Sean Hughes, Spencer Lovejoy and Gabriel Morgan, who are competing in their first world junior competitions.
“The Team USA junior men’s team have improved steadily over the last few years, and this year is no exception, ” said Adam Hamill, Head Coach. “Everyone on the team has extensive experience playing internationally, including the two returning players from last year’s world championships in Namibia.
“With some very strong international performances in the last twelve months, I am hopeful the U.S. players will be seeded appropriately. With the depth of talent and passion we have on the team, we are excited about possibilities. As always, the goal is to continue to focus on improving our games and learning from every situation.”
The 2014 Men’s World Junior Team Championship proved to be a breakout tournament for Brownell, whose undefeated team performance earned him the 2014 USOC Athlete of the Year Nominee Award. Brownell went on to win the U.S. Junior Open title, and narrowly missed out on his first national title, falling to Hughes in the final.
“Representing the U.S. is an honor that I know all of our team take seriously and respect, ” Hamill continued. “The years of individual effort and sacrifice just to make the team is impressive. What’s remarkable to me is how much more they are going to give when USA is on the back of their shirts.
“As coach of the junior men’s team, it’s an incredible privilege to work with so many dedicated, talented, and respectful young men. The World Championships are the pinnacle of junior squash. The U.S. team is knocking on the door of the best in the world. This summer, I’m excited to see everyone pushing towards their best.”
For Reed, Hughes and Brownell, the 2015 world championships will be their final appearance on the junior national team. While Brownell and Hughes will spend another year in high school, narrowly missing out on next summer’s age eligibility by a matter of weeks, Reed will enter the University of Pennsylvania as a freshman in the fall.
“My first experience representing the U.S. on the world stage was last year in Namibia, and it was by far the greatest experience of my life, which I will treasure forever, ” Reed reflected. “Playing for something bigger than myself and with a team was really special. It is an honor to be able to represent my country this summer, and I can’t wait to wear red, white, and blue with my teammates and coaches once again.”
“I believe we have an extremely talented and hardworking, dedicated team this year, ” Reed continued. “We are extremely lucky to have Coach Hamill, Coach Lane, and Director of National Teams, Rich Wade, to guide and lead us this summer in Eindhoven.
“I think in the past there has been a gap between US Squash and countries like Egypt, England, India, etc., especially for the boys. I believe this summer we have the players, coaches, support, and drive we need to bridge that gap. My personal goal for the tournament is to get as far as possible in the individual draw, and also be the best teammate that I can be. As a team, our goal is to bridge the gap, and make a statement that the U.S. can compete with anyone, while conducting ourselves with the utmost class and respect for our opponents and the sport.
“I cannot think of a better way to end my junior squash career than to compete with the teammates and coaches I love, against the best players in the world.”
For more information on the 2015 World Junior Championships, visit wsfworldjuniors.com.