US number one prepares to launch herself on the WSA Tour after stellar student career at Harvard
By Alan Thatcher, Squash Mad Editor
American No.1 Amanda Sobhy has completed her studies at Harvard University, collecting four national college championships along the way, and is now ready to embark full-time on the WSA World Tour. Already ranked 10 in the world at the age of 21, and a former world junior champion, she is hoping coach Thierry Lincou can guide her to the very top of the game. Having won four WSA titles at the age of 16, she has the ability and the confidence to challenge for the highest honours. And she’s looking forward to keeping her prize money for the first time! Here, Amanda talks about life at Harvard, her rivalry with her sister Sabrina, her professional ambitions, and the peculiar dynamics of a squash-mad family.
11 POINTS WITH AMANDA SOBHY
1: Amanda, congratulations on four hugely successful years at Harvard. Life at Harvard – please share the highlights.
A: Highlights being at Harvard is definitely being on the Harvard Squash Team! It was such an experience playing squash as a team sport and I loved having all of my team-mates there every day, whether it was in practice, matches, or just going out together on a Saturday night. These girls are some of my closest friends and I loved being on a team with them. A major highlight was winning the Team Nationals this past year since it was home at Harvard and my last Team Nationals ever. We beat Trinity in the finals 7-2 with two of our top nine players missing! It was definitely a great finish to my college squash team career!
2: Who would you like to thank the most?
A: Oh wow, there are a ton of people so bare with me. First, I want to thank my coaches who have helped me in every way possible to play college squash and at the professional level, so thank you Mike Way, Hameed Ahmed, and Luke Hammond. Also, I want to thank my team-mates for being the best team-mates ever. This will be something I will miss most when I’m on my own on the pro tour. I want to thank Thierry Lincou for working with me the past two years. I can’t wait to continue working with him after I graduate. Lastly, and most importantly, I need to thank my family and those who are a part of “Team Sobhy” for supporting me from day one. I’m not the easiest person to deal with, but they helped me achieve my goals and I know they will continue to support me while I make my official debut on the Pro Tour post grad.
3: Life after Harvard: what are your immediate expectations, priorities and goals?
A: I will be Full Time on Tour for the first time in my life! Finally I can play squash without having to worry about my studies! My goal is definitely to break into single digits in the rankings since I have been sitting at 10/11 for a few months now. I just want to enjoy being able to play all of the tournaments that I have been missing out on, so I am not going to put too much pressure on myself. I’m just excited to finally be playing squash with out having to worry about handing in a paper for once in my life!
4: With your WSA ranking already world number 10, have you set yourself any long-term ambitions?
A: Of course my long-term ambition is to get to top 5 and then to number 1 in the world, but that’s going to require a lot of hard work since there are so many great players on tour!
5: Where will you be based as a professional?
A: I will stay based in Boston since I will be continuing to work with Thierry Lincou. Plus, after spending four years here, I have gotten a good system down and met a bunch of people who will help me out, so I am excited to stay in Boston.
6: With Thierry Lincou as your coach, you have onboard a man with an impeccable record at the highest level. What impact and influence has he had on your career and playing style so far?
A: It has been such a treat having Thierry as my coach! I feel so lucky to have such a person there to train and coach me. He has helped me in structuring out training programs so we can map progress on a weekly basis, which is something I never had. Plus, he has been on tour at the top level, so he knows all about what it takes to be at that top level whether it’s squash, mental, or physical.
7: Moving into the role of a self-employed, full-time athlete, life can be tough for squash players. How will you make yourself financially comfortable? Who are your main sponsors / backers?
A: I will have to get back to you on who my sponsors/backers are because I just finished college squash on Sunday, so I have nothing set up yet. Obviously, with the Harvard community and potential backing from US Squash, there are a lot of people who I hope would want to help out their top American player 🙂 But I am delighted that Harrow is my first official sponsor and I’m excited to finally be working with the Harrow team!
8: How did you feel when you and your sister Sabrina were likened to tennis players Venus and Serena Williams in an article in the Boston Globe?
A: I LOVED IT! I saw the article and thought it was awesome. Venus and Serena were my idols growing up back when I was a little tennis player, so I loved being compared to them. It would be a dream come true if we were able to play squash with them!
9: Losing to your little sister in the US National final – how does that feel? How good do you think she can become?
A: Let me tell you, it does not feel good! We, mainly me, are extremely competitive, so losing to a younger sibling is no fun, but she fully deserved the win. Sabrina is extremely talented and she can become really good, but hasn’t quite found that desire to want to be at that top level yet. I’m hoping she will realize her potential to become one of the top squash players in the world because once she does, she will be lethal. I wouldn’t want to play her, ha-ha!
10: Please tell us about the relationship dynamics in such a high-profile squash family.
A: It’s intense. Pretty much it’s squash all day, every day. Love my parents, but I have had to tell them
numerous times to stop talking to me about squash and to stop analyzing my matches on a daily basis. All I want my parents to do is to tell me ’Good job’, how proud they are of me, and ask me what I want to eat for dinner. Super simple, but they are still having some trouble grasping such a concept. It’s a work in progress 🙂
11: You come across on social media platforms as a very happy, upbeat, positive individual with a great sense of humour. Is this how you see yourself?
A: Why thank you! I’m so flattered that people on the social media front think of me that way! Glad it’s not just me who thinks I’m funny because my siblings don’t think I’m funny at all! A lot of people know me on tour as the girl with the big cheeks and the cheesy grin and I am perfectly okay with that!
Squash Mad: Amanda, thank you for some enlightening answers. We look forward to seeing your career take off even more as you hit the WSA Tour on a full-time basis. Good luck from the Squash Mad team!