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Team USA’s Amanda Sobhy put on a stellar display in the J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions quarterfinals Tuesday afternoon, defeating world No. 9 Alison Waters in three games to become the first U.S.-born American male or female to ever reach the semifinals in Grand Central Terminal.
An even first game saw the English six seed earn a 10-7 lead, but Sobhy fought off three game balls and won five consecutive points to take the first 12-10. The twenty-two-year-old Harvard graduate had complete control in the second, which she won 11-3 to go 2-0 up.
Waters regained composure in a tight third game, then up 9-7, Sobhy returned a serve by mashing a rolling nick volley to the roar of the home crowd. Despite Waters fighting off two match balls, Sobhy made no mistake to win 11-9 and reach her first career semifinal appearance at the Tournament of Champions.
“The first game is always critical because you want to go out there and make a statement, ” Sobhy said. “I told myself that I had to keep fighting at 10-7 down, and that it wasn’t over yet. I knew how critical it was so I was really happy to win the first game.”
Sobhy continues her historic streak in New York City after recording the largest upset of her career Sunday night over defending champion and world No. 2 Raneem El Welily. Like her match against El Welily, Sobhy entered her quarterfinal having lost both previous encounters against Waters, who was the 2015 ToC finalist against El Welily and ranked as high as world No. 3 in 2015.
“It feels great, ” Sobhy said after reaching her third career world series semifinal. “I’m really relieved to win in the end. She started coming back and I thought I had it in the bag, but she’s such a strong opponent and kept fighting until the end. I’m just happy to pull through and get to the semifinals.”
“It means everything, ” Sobhy said of the home crowd. “The fact that I had so many supporters today. I had my entire team here, so many of my teammates past and present, the New York crowd, and people coming from all over. I’m going to need them again tomorrow.”
Sobhy will face unexpected opposition in her semifinal in the form of Egyptian world junior champion Nouran Gohar, who took out world No. 1 Laura Massaro in a five-game battle prior to Sobhy’s quarterfinal.
The eighteen year-old reached a career high ranking of No. 9 in October, and lost to Sobhy in four games in their only previous encounter on tour in 2013.
“I’m happy that I got off in three because I didn’t have to expend much energy, while Nouran and Laura had quite a battle before me, ” Sobhy said. “So I’m hoping that Nouran is going to be feeling it tomorrow, but I’m just going to go about my recover like any other day.”