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Americans Amanda Sobhy and Olivia Blatchford reached the 2015 Pan American Games women’s individual semifinals in Sunday morning’s men’s and women’s quarterfinals in Toronto.
Sobhy and Blatchford were two of four Americans in quarterfinal action with male compatriots Chris Gordon and Todd Harrity also in action on the men’s side.
Current U.S. national champions Amanda Sobhy and Todd Harrity led off the morning for Team USA. Top-seeded Sobhy defeated Brazil’s Thaisa Serafini 11-7, 11-3, 11-3 guaranteeing Team USA at least one Bronze medal from the individuals. Harrity, a 5/8 seed, stepped on the ASB GlassCourt next for Team USA against Canada’s current champion and 3/4 seed Shawn Delierre. The higher-ranked Canadian claimed the four-game marathon in front of a supportive home crowd to reach the semifinals.
Blatchford, a 3/4 seed, then earned at least one more Bronze medal for Team USA, swiftly defeating Chile’s Anita Pinto 11-3, 11-4, 11-7. Gordon, a 5/8 seed, was the final American on court Sunday afternoon, and lost out to Peru’s flag bearer and 3/4 seed Diego Elias 11-9, 11-7, 11-9.
Sobhy now faces Canada’s 3/4 seed Samantha Cornett, whom the American last defeated on home soil in the 2014 Women’s World Team Championships. Blatchford then takes on Mexico’s two seed Samantha Teran.
The men’s and women’s semifinals take place Sunday evening at 7pm local time.
Follow @TeamUSASquash on twitter for the latest match updates.
Rich Wade, Team Manager and Director of National Teams and Certifications, reports on day two of match play from Toronto:
After the dust settled on the Day 1 and the team did what they could to recover ahead of a quick turnaround before the next round of matches, attentions began to turn to today’s quarterfinals and the prospect of reaching the medal rounds. For Team USA, the PAG’s is the pinnacle of a player’s career and the event is living up to expectations so far.
Day two started with Amanda Sobhy taking to court for the first time this week against Thaisa Serafini of Brazil as she starts a long week of matches as she is playing Individuals, Doubles and the Team event. Sobhy came through in three games, 11-7, 11-3, 11-3 after she settled on the glass court very quickly and looked like the professional she now is after her recent Graduation from Harvard University. “I’m happy to finally start the tournament and represent my country. I’m looking forward to tonight’s match against Canada, the atmosphere will be electric”, Sobhy said after her match.
The much anticipated matchup of Todd Harrity and Shawn Delierre was next on court for the U.S. contingent, hoping to keep the winning run going. In front of a full house, the majority being a supportive local crowd, we witnessed a see-saw encounter that saw the home favorite come out on top 3-1. Harrity pushed Delierre to the limit, taking an 8-4 lead in the first game before losing 11-9 and coming back from 8-4 down in the fourth before losing 11-9. It could have been very different, but crafty Delierre did enough to progress into the semifinal stage and prevent from medaling at the PAG’s for the first time in his career.
As Team USA looked to have a women in each semifinal, Olivia Blatchford took to the court against Ana Pinto of Chile. Blatchford was fairly comfortable throughout, in the knowledge that she wanted to retain as much energy as possible for what would like be a semifinal battle and won 11-3, 11-4 11-6 to guarantee a Bronze medal but will be hoping for better against tonight’s opponent, either Hollie Naughton of Canada or Samantha Teran of Mexico.
The final match of the first session saw Chris Gordon take on the 3/4-seeded Diego Elias of Peru. The much talked about Peruvian, who also carried his nations flag at the Opening Ceremony, is looking to claim his first PAG’s Gold medal however Gordon was not going to lay down for him. The first game was always going to be crucial and so it turned out, with scores locked at 9-9, Elias came up with two outright winners to take the first 11-9. Gordon, not willing to go down without a fight, soaked up a ton of pressure early in the second, retrieving some phenomenal shots and counter attacking with some of his own, but it wasn’t quite enough losing 11-7. Both players were sparring, fully aware of what was at stake. Although Gordon was able to establish an lead early in the third and stay ahead through 8-8, Elias was able to close it out even with multiple diving retrievals from Gordon.
Semifinals will start tonight at 7pm with Amanda up first and Olivia at 8.30pm. Follow us on twitter @TeamUSASquash for up to date scores.