Team USA recorded its best WSF Women’s World Team Championship finish of second place, falling short against hosts and defending champions Egypt in a dramatic final in front of 1,500 fans Friday, December 16, at the Madinaty Sporting Club in Cairo, Egypt.
The U.S. women entered the final having already made history this week, reaching its first world teams semifinal and final–ensuring a better finish than a previous best of fifth place in 2014, 2016 and 2018.
The U.S. had their sights set on the world title against one of the strongest teams in history, boasting the world’s top three ranked players: world No. 1 Nouran Gohar, world No. 2 Nour El Sherbini and world No. 3 Hania El Hammamy.
The No. 1 position led off the match with Team USA’s world No. 5 Amanda Sobhy taking on Gohar. Gohar, who won her nine previous match ups against the American, sped to a 7-0 lead in the first game before Sobhy started to find her form and push the score to 11-7. Sobhy continued her positive momentum to take the second game 11-5, and edged a narrow third game 12-10 to earn a 2-1 lead. Gohar continued to apply pressure in a pivotal fourth game and fought off two match balls and force a fifth game 13-11.
With the crowd fully behind her, Gohar maintained a lead throughout the fifth game and closed out the match 11-8 after fifty-six minutes to give Egypt a 1-0 lead.
“If this match hadn’t been played in Egypt, I don’t think I’d have done it,” Gohar said afterwards. “The comeback was purely because of the crowd. A big thank you to them and all my teammates, they’re the best, honestly. They’re the best in the world.”
In contrast to the first match, the No. 2 match between six-time world champion Nour El Sherbini and world No. 10 Olivia Fiechter played out in contrasting fashion. El Sherbini, one of the greatest players of the modern era, put on a clinical display to earn Egypt its fifth Women’s World Team Championship title 11-3, 11-4, 11-5 in twenty-one minutes.
“While we’re disappointed with the result, we couldn’t be prouder with what we’ve accomplished this week and making history with a second place finish,” said Ong Beng Hee, the Ganek Family US Squash Head National Coach. “Amanda gave every ounce of effort in what is surely one of the greatest women’s world teams final matches of all time. To push this Egyptian team with the top three players in the world is no easy feat, and we’ll leave Egypt with our heads held high and hungrier for the next world teams in two years. We’d also like to thank everyone back home in the U.S., at the Specter Center in Philadelphia, and around the world for their support this week.”
The U.S. finishes its tournament with its only two losses coming in the final against Egypt. Elsewhere in the tournament, Malaysia and England earned places on the podium with 3/4th place finishes.
“This is the first Women’s World Teams we’ve had for four years, so it’s great to see everyone back,” said Zena Wooldridge, World Squash Federation President, “The Women’s World Team Championships is always a special event, and I think it’s something the players really enjoy, they don’t get to play team events too often. You can tell the dynamic, the atmosphere and the experience is really fantastic for the teams. Here today, we’ve had two nations fielding the strongest women’s teams that they’ve ever had and it’s produced some really world-class squash. We also see a representation of the universality of squash; we have four teams from four different continents on the podium this evening.”
Japan’s Satomi Watanabe, who won all six of her matches, was awarded Most Valuable Player. South Africa, who beat their predicted finish of 12th by three places, were awarded Team of the Championship.