No nerves for fearless US number one Sobhy
By NATHAN CLARKE
United States No.1 Amanda Sobhy insists that she is not feeling any pressure ahead of the biggest tournament on the Women’s Tour, the upcoming PSA Women’s World Championship, and is relishing the chance to compete as the seventh seed when the action gets under way in Kuala Lumpur on Monday April 25.
Since graduating from Harvard last summer with a degree in Social Anthropology, Sobhy has committed her full attention to professional squash and the 2015-16 campaign has proved to be something of a breakthrough season for the charismatic American.
After consolidating her position in the world’s top ten she also reached her first ever World Series final in the iconic setting of New York’s Grand Central Terminal three months ago during the prestigious J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions, where she narrowly missed out on lifting the coveted title in front of home support after losing to Nour El Sherbini. Now recognised as one of the world’s leading players, Sobhy is heading to Malaysia with a fearless attitude.
“I can’t believe this is my first World Championship in over five years,” she said.
“The last one I played was in Sharm El Sheikh back in 2010 and I didn’t even qualify, so I’m definitely looking forward to playing in the most prestigious event on tour.
“It’s always a dream to be crowned the World Champion and the fact that I can finally compete in it again now that I have graduated is just a great feeling. I am not nervous for it since I am the underdog here and don’t really have to prove anything, so I am just going to go out there and take in match by match and give it my best.
“I am pretty content with my performance this season and cracking into single digits finally. Since this is my first full season on the Tour now that I have graduated, I managed to live up to all my seedings or better in every tournament, which I am happy about.
“Reaching the final of the Tournament of Champions was by far my favourite week to date on the pro circuit and it was a bit of a breakthrough moment for me in the season to show that I belong up there in the rankings.”
At the age of just 22, Sobhy has firmly established herself as arguably her country’s greatest ever player and became the first American-born player to break into the top 10 across both the Men’s and Women’s game in September 2014, in addition to being the only American-born female finalist in the Tournament of Champions.
With American hopes riding on her shoulders, Sobhy admits that she is using that for momentum as she readies herself for a title challenge in Malaysia in the most lucrative Women’s World Championship ever.
“It would be absolutely amazing to be the first American to win the World Championship, not only for myself, but also for squash in the US,” said Sobhy.
“However, I’m not going to put pressure on myself by thinking about that during the event, but I may use it to fuel me to push even harder in my matches.
“It would mean the world to me to become the new World Champion. I am speechless just thinking about it.”
First up for Sobhy is a meeting with a qualifier and, if she progresses unscathed, she is seeded to meet Raneem El Welily, who she beat in the Tournament of Champions, in the last eight.
All matches will be played at the National Squash Centre, Bukit Jalil and admittance to the event is free of charge. In addition to the $185,000 purse on offer, the victor will also win a brand new Citroen DS4 car. For more information and details, visit the tournament website here: http://psawwckualalumpur.com/
Picture by STEVE LINE (www.squashpics.com) courtesy of PSA