The six men and women representing the United States at the 2019 Pan American Games–the biggest international stage for Team USA squash–in Lima, Peru, July 25-31, have been selected.
The women’s squad is led by returning 2015 Pan Am Games triple-gold-medalist Amanda Sobhy, world No. 8, and gold and silver medalist, Olivia Blatchford Clyne, world No. 20. Sabrina Sobhy, a recent Harvard graduate and double gold medalist at the 2018 Pan American Championships, is set to make her Pan Am Games debut.
The men’s squad is led by returning team bronze medalists Todd Harrity, world No. 45, and Chris Hanson, who earned a second bronze medal in doubles. Andrew Douglas, a rising Penn junior and two-time S.L. Green U.S. Men’s Championship finalist, rounds out the team in his Pan Am Games debut.
The squads will be led by Paul Assaiante, the Ganek Family US Squash Head National Coach, and National Coach Thierry Lincou, a former world No. 1.
The 2019 Pan Ams marks squash’s seventh appearance in the quadrennial games since the sport was first included in 1995. The Lima games present a different structure for squash, however, as the first iteration to include a mixed doubles competition. Thirteen nations will compete for a total of seven squash gold medals across seven days: men’s and women’s individuals, men’s, women’s and mixed doubles, and men’s and women’s teams.
“There is no greater honor than to be wearing your county’s uniform and the Pan American Games are the highest stage for an American squash player to represent Team USA,” Assaiante said.
Unlike the three annual Pan American Championships leading up to the quadrennial Games that involve four-player delegations, the Pan American Games only allow three-player squads, which results in a rigorous selection process according to Assaiante.
“The entire year contributed to the selection process,” Assaiante said. “These six players came through every hurdle we put in front of them. They all earned this and it’s a real testament to how hard they worked over the season.”
Team USA topped the medal chart for the first time at the 2015 games in Toronto. The U.S. women put in a record-setting performance, sweeping all three gold medals with Amanda Sobhy–the world No. 8–claiming individual gold, Sobhy and Natalie Grainger earning doubles gold and Blatchford Clyne contributing to the team gold and collecting the individual silver. Sobhy and Blatchford Clyne will both compete in the
“This is a remarkable women’s team,” Assaiante said. “You have Amanda who won all of the gold medals in Canada, you have Olivia who was on the gold medal team and was the individual silver medalist and then you have Sabrina, who with Amanda last summer, won the Pan American Championships team and doubles gold. So the women are clearly perched on top, but at the same time have the bullseye squarely on their backs. It will be a question of how well we can manage the pressure and expectations.”
Harrity and Hanson are both set for their second Pan Am Games appearances having made their debuts in Toronto. At twenty years old, Douglas has proven to be one of the top players in both collegiate squash and at the National Singles, having reached two S.L. Green finals against Hanson in 2017 and 2018.
“Todd has had a really good season and some very strong wins on the tour along the way,” Assaiante said. “Over the past few years, Chris has really proven himself as a steady performer between two national titles, winning the qualifying event and improving his world ranking. As a lefty, he’s a very dangerous and helpful piece on the doubles court and can be a good left wall option. Andrew is the young rising star, it’s great to see him as a part of the team. He’ll be marching into a stadium of 80,000 people for the first time in his life. He’ll get that valuable experience playing on this stage, and it will be neat to watch him cut his teeth.”
The U.S. squash players will walk out alongside 376 other members of Team USA during the opening ceremonies on July 26, representing twenty-six different sports. A total of 6,668 athletes representing forty-one nations will compete in the Pan Ams, July 25-August 11.
For more Pan American Games information visit lima2019.pe/en.