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Team USA’s Amanda Sobhy recorded the biggest upset of her career and one of the most significant results in U.S. squash history Sunday night, defeating J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions title-holder and world No. 2 Raneem El Welily in four games in Grand Central Terminal’s Vanderbilt Hall.
The twenty-two-year-old Harvard graduate entered the match having lost all six previous tour encounters with the top-seeded Egyptian, including three matches in 2015, the first of which came twelve months ago in the Tournament of Champions quarterfinals.
Sobhy made a strong start to the match claiming the first game 11-5, but El Welily responded in the second to level the score 6-11. After consulting with coach and former world No. 1 Thierry Lincou in between games, Sobhy reclaimed the lead in the third 11-5, and pushed through the fourth to seal the historic victory and a place in the quarterfinals 11-6 in forty-one minutes.
“I’m a little shocked to be honest because the last three times we’ve played it has not gone well for me at all and to get the win today was way above what I expected, ” said Sobhy, who reached her career-high world ranking of No. 8 this month.
“I knew I had nothing to lose against her and I couldn’t have done any worse than the last time we played in Hong Kong, so I just went out here and tried to stick to the game plan. I had to go out of my comfort zone and mix up the pace to get her on the back foot and I’m very, very pleased that it paid off.
The result marks the first time any U.S.-born male or female has upset a world No. 2 on the PSA Tour in the modern softball era. In 2015, Sobhy became the first U.S. male or female to reach the Tournament of Champions quarterfinals, a record that the Sea Cliff, New York-native now has the chance to break on Tuesday against England’s world No. 9 Alison Waters.
In September 2015, El Welily became the first Egyptian woman to reach world No. 1, which she retained through December before moving below Laura Massaro at world No. 2 this month.
“It’s definitely one of, if not the single, biggest wins of my career. She’s a phenomenal player, she won here last year and she’s been world No. 1, but I felt relaxed and knew I had my coach, my friends and the crowd behind me so I was excited to go in there and do my best.”
“I was nervous when we played last year, which was the only time I took a game off her, but I wasn’t nervous tonight, ” said Sobhy, who is based in Boston where she trains with coaches Lincou and Shahid Zaman.
“Thierry has made a huge difference to my game. I started working with him when I was a junior and his experience and knowledge has been amazing and both he and my other coach, Shahid Zaman, have really helped me much on.
“Hopefully I can back it up now in the quarters on Tuesday.”
The result comes during Sobhy’s first full season as a full-time touring professional since graduating from Harvard with a degree in Social Anthropology in the spring.
The Pan American Games triple gold medalist will face Waters, who has defeated Sobhy in both of their previous encounters, Tuesday at 2:30pm ET.
All glass court matches are streaming live on SquashTV.
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