[jbutton size=”large” color=”blue” link=”https://www.ussquash.com/teamusa/2015-pan-ams/” newpage=”yes”]Pan American Games Page[/jbutton]
Amanda Sobhy and Olivia Blatchford earned Team USA Squash’s first gold and silver medals in Toronto respectively after an all-American women’s individual final Monday night at the 2015 Pan American Games.
Sobhy defeated her fellow twenty-two-year-old compatriot 11-8, 11-3, 11-3, to win her first Pan American Games gold medal, while Blatchford also collects a Pan Ams first with her silver medal.
Sobhy’s gold medal mark’s Team USA Squash’s first at the Pan American Games since Sobhy’s doubles partner, Natalie Grainger, won the women’s individual gold in 2007.
“This is huge for me, ” said Sobhy, the PSA world No. 10. “For us, this is like our little Olympics because squash isn’t an Olympic sport. To be able to represent my country and win a gold medal for myself and the U.S. is definitely up there.”
Not only have these two medalists trained and traveled together, but they are also roommates in Toronto’s athlete village.
“It’s obviously tough, but at the end of the day, you can’t let that interfere with how you’re playing, ” said Sobhy. “I had a game plan and just stuck to it, pulled through and won in three.”
“We’re a very, very tight-knit group, ” Sobhy said of the U.S. team. “Teammates, we’re all just like family with each other. We always will support each other no matter what. Just being all here together, it’s great. So at the end of the day, we’re all competing for the U.S. We’re all cheering for each other.”
Sobhy endured the busiest day of all squash competitors having won two women’s doubles matches with Grainger prior to her individual final. Sobhy & Grainger upset the bracket seedings to eliminate second-seeded Colombia’s Catalina Pelaez & Laura Tovar in the semifinals.
Sobhy & Grainger are poised to add gold or silver to Team USA Squash’s medal haul Tuesday night against Canada’s Samantha Cornett & Nikole Todd.
While the women’s individual final was contested on the singles glass court, Team USA men’s doubles partnership Chris Hanson & Chris Gordon were consigned to Bronze medals on the softball doubles court, losing against Canada’s Andrew & Graeme Schnell in the semifinals. The Canadian’s will contest the men’s doubles final against Colombia’s Andres Herrera & Juan Vargas Tuesday evening.
Colombia will bring home at least one squash gold medal after Miguel Angel Rodriguez defeated fellow Pan Ams flag bearer Diego Elias of Peru in the men’s individual final.
Preliminary Team play commences Tuesday morning with only the women’s team in action Tuesday. The U.S. women enter Group A as the top-seeded team in the competition, and open preliminary team play against Chile at 11:15am ET.
Wednesday sees the U.S. women take on group-mates Guatemala and Mexico at 10am and 5:30pm respectively. The U.S. men’s team have also drawn Chile and Guatemala in Group C with both matches slated for Wednesday. The men will first play Guatemala at 12:15pm, then Chile at 7:45pm.
Follow updates @TeamUSASquash on Twitter and the Team USA Pan American Games page.
For all results and the full schedule, visit the official 2015 Pan American Games Squash page.
Current Toronto Weather: Cloudy with a chance of medals! USA v USA in the women’s singles GOLD medal match! pic.twitter.com/HyJ7d9bX6p
— U.S. Olympic Team (@TeamUSA) July 14, 2015
1 and 2 for women’s @USSquash at #TO2015! Way to go! #GoTeamUSA pic.twitter.com/SRVEA28tjv — U.S. Olympic Team (@TeamUSA) July 14, 2015
PanAmerican Gold medalist in the singles event! What an unbelievable feeling this is!!! #TeamUSA#PanAmGamespic.twitter.com/RPMQj6xxUe
— Amanda Sobhy (@itssobhytime) July 14, 2015
Rich Wade, Team Manager and Director of National Teams and Certifications, reports on day four of match play from Toronto:
Tonight had the potential to be a competition defining evening and …. The first two and a half days are like a 100m sprint, only for you to realize there’s another 100m to go. This is the culmination of the Individual event though we’re still in the midst of the Doubles event and the Team event is yet to start.
First on court was Amanda Sobhy and Natalie Grainger versus the dangerous Colombian team of Laura Tovar and former Trinity College #1 Catalina Pelaez. Fully aware that Amanda would not have much time between this match and her Individual final, Team USA took to court with a great sense of purpose and attacking intent. The challenge in Doubles, like many events, is the quicker you try to win the longer it may end up taking. Thankfully for Team USA and Amanda, the balance was perfect with Grainger taking control on the right wall creating openings for Sobhy to slot volley’s into the front court. 11-6, 11-6 later and Team USA had its Women’s Doubles pair into the final to play what will be an incredible matchup between themselves and Canada. Straight to our USOC medic for Amanda to make sure she is fully prepared for her second match in 2 hours!
With the Men’s Doubles on one court and the Women’s Final on the other, again Team USA had to divide and conquer. While the coaching team stayed impartial with Sobhy and Blatchford, what we were about to witness was a very proud moment for US Squash. Both players entered the court knowing that whatever happened in the match, they would be teammates again immediately after and fighting for a Team Gold.
The match started closely, a little bit edgy, perhaps some nerves with what was at stake. Amanda settled into a rhythm a bit quicker than Olivia and Olivia was playing into her hands trying to beat Amanda with a hard and low game which Amanda plays so effectively. 11-8 to Amanda in the first and it was decisive as she was able to continue that momentum through the second and third games to claim a 3-0 victory over her teammate and win her first Pan American Gold medal.
While Amanda was claiming Gold, Team USA had its Men’s Doubles team of Chris Gordon and Chris Hanson trying to oust home favorites Canada and the Schnell brothers. Expectations were high and more so when Canada beat the #2 seeds Mexico earlier in the day in a grueling battle and the U.S. pair thought they might be able to capitalize on this. As it turned out, the first game was crucial with huge swings of momentum, 3-0 to Canada, 5-3 to the U.S., 8-3 to Canada before the teams hit 10-all and sudden death. After an agonizingly long point, a fraction of a drop in concentration and the first game got away from Team USA, to the crowds delight.
As the Chris’ came out to try to silence the crowd in the second, their slow start made it increasingly difficult to halt the run the Canadian’s were on. Quickly going 5-1 down, a brief team talk would see them claw it back to 8-6 and gave us a glimmer of hope. Sadly for Team USA, we were going to be resigned to a Bronze medal although it was a very proud moment for the guys and they will get to stand on the podium on Tuesday night.
Tomorrow will see the beginning of the Team event and the Doubles finals where Team USA women will be hoping to make it two Golds out of two!