Team USA gathers in front of the official Pan American Games banner
Team USA gathers in front of the official Pan American Games banner

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Team USA Squash arrived in Toronto, Canada, Sunday as the six-player squad prepares for the seventeenth quadrennial Pan American Games, July 11-17.

The US Squash contingent will join over 6, 000 athletes from forty-one delegations in the Opening Ceremony Friday. The spectacle celebrates the sports and cultures of the Western Hemisphere in front of 60, 000 spectators. The ceremony includes the iconic parade of nations and the lighting of the Games cauldron to commence the Games.

The six squash events—men’s and women’s singles, doubles, and team—held July 11-17, will showcase the strongest American squash contingent in history. Of the six competitors, half are returning veterans to the Pan Am stage: Natalie Grainger, Olivia Blatchford, and Chris Gordon. The other three are the 2015 national champions Amanda Sobhy and Todd Harrity, and Chris Hanson, who has achieved recent success in the world rankings.

In his third trip to the Pan Ams, Ganek Family US Squash Head National Coach Paul Assaiante, also the head squash coach at Trinity College, will head the women’s team. Gilly Lane, the Associate Head Coach at the University of Pennsylvania, will lead the men. Lane has had experience on the Pan Am scene himself—playing in the annual Pan American Squash Championships in Mexico last year, as well as in 2013 in Argentina and 2008 in Ecuador, but has never taken part in the quadrennial Pan American Games as a player or coach.

The first Pan American games were held in Buenos Aires in 1951. This inaugural event featured eighteen sports, whereas this year’s Games will showcase thirty-six. Squash has been contested in the Pan Ams since the 1995 games in Mar del Plata, Argentina. This year marks the sixth time Team USA has made an appearance in the Pan Ams. (The 2019 games are set for Lima.)

Team USA begins their Canadian campaign with the men’s and women’s singles round of thirty-two and sixteen at 10am ET on Saturday, July 11. Draws will be released tomorrow, July 10, at 10am.

Canada leads the way in number of overall squash medals with thirty, but the United States and Mexico are both strong second and third place competitors, with sixteen and fifteen respective medals.

Chris Gordon—the only 2011 men’s team returnee—has played in two previous iterations of the games. His highest finish was in the 2007 men’s doubles with Julian Illingworth; the duo were runners-up to Mexico’s Arturo Salazar & Eric Galvez. Natalie Grainger, also a verteran of the Pan Am scene, score the second gold individual medal for the United States in 2007; Grainger grabbed silver with the women’s team that same year.

In the 2011 competition, both the men’s and women’s teams placed third in the overall team competition. This year, Team USA looks to  capitalize on their strength in this most prestigious and competitive event.

Follow Team USA on their Pan Am journey through the official Team USA Pan Am website and Twitter @TeamUSASquash.

For more information on the 2015 Pan Am Games, visit the official website.