Team USA matched its best Women’s Women’s World Team Championship finish of fifth place with a win over Malaysia on Sunday in Dalian, China.
The match was a replay of the 2016 event where both teams fought for fifth place on the final day of competition. In 2018, the U.S. entered as No. 3 seeds and Malaysia as No. 4, with the teams losing to Hong Kong and France in the quarterfinals, respectively.
Team USA No. 3 Sabrina Sobhy led off the day against 16-year-old upcoming Malaysian star Aifa Azman, taking the match in three games to put the U.S. on the board. Sobhy was followed in the next match by older sister, world No. 18 Amanda Sobhy, facing eight-time world champion Nicol David. Sobhy dropped the first game but gained control of the remainder of the match to win in four close games.
Team USA head coach Thierry Lincou reflected on the event: “I’m very proud of the team—we’re still a young team, we’re still learning in this competition…this team is very new—new to the culture of getting used to the pools, and the concept of getting out of the pool into the second stage which is like another competition.”
The U.S. gained meaningful experience throughout the event, and built confidence with win over semifinalist France in the pool stages. The team has a bright future, with Amanda Sobhy and Olivia Blatchford each twenty-five years old and Sabrina Sobhy and Reeham Sedky only twenty-one and still competing in college.
Lincou continued: “[finishing fifth] reinforces the fact that we belong with the top five countries in the world. There is still a lot of work and hope – but there is a bright future for these guys.”