Reigning US champions fall to Olivia Blatchford and Todd Harrity
By Squash Mad Reporter (courtesy of US Squash)
Second-seeded Olivia Blatchford and Todd Harrity dethroned their respective three seeds and defending national champions Sabrina Sobhy and Julian Illingworth in Friday night’s S.L. Green U.S. Men’s and U.S. Women’s Championships semi-finals at the McArthur Squash Center in Charlottesville, Virginia.
The semi-finals began with both top seeds sealing their passage into Saturday’s finals in front of a packed gallery.
Playing in her first tournament as a full-time professional, world No. 10 Amanda Sobhy defeated her mentor and national team coach Natalie Grainger in a quick-fire opening match.
The 21-year-old Harvard senior defeated the former world No. 1 13-11, 11-8, 11-7 to reach her fourth-consecutive national singles final.
Olivia Blatchford (R) denied defending champion Sabrina Sobhy a chance to face her sister in the final for a second consecutive year.
The men’s top seed Chris Gordon followed suit in the ensuing match, but unlike the elder Sobhy, the 2013 men’s champion needed four games to get past first-time national singles semifinalist Chris Hanson.
Gordon, world No. 57, edged out two narrow opening games 11-9, 13-11, but let world No. 158 back into the match dropping the third 11-9. Gordon made no mistake in the fourth, closing out the match 11-5.
Women’s two seed Olivia Blatchford then denied 18-year-old Sabrina Sobhy a chance to defend her title against her older sister, by dramatically coming back from two games down, to pull out the match 8-11, 4-11, 13-11, 11-4, 11-7.
Saturday is Blatchford’s second final appearance, and first since 2011.
In what was a repeat of the 2014 men’s final, 24-year-old Todd Harrity defeated nine-time and defending champion Illingworth for the first time in his young career, to book his place in a second consecutive S.L. Green final.
In a physical encounter, Portland’s Illingworth took an early lead with the first game 11-7, but Philadelphia’s Harrity responded by edging out a gruelling second game 18-16.
Harrity continued to press in another close third game 13-11, and clinched the match in the fourth 11-7.
Saturday’s finals will be streamed live starting with the women’s final at 5pm ET, with the men’s final following on.
Meanwhile, open age division play continues throughout Saturday. Follow Saturday’s progress on the mobile and desktop-compatible www.clublocker.com, using the Player Tracker and Live Scores features. Using the Player Tracker feature, players, coaches, and parents can see a player’s next opponent, time, and location.and all scores can be followed live throughout the weekend on www.clublocker.com.
Day One: Julian Illingworth beats Gilly Lane 11-9 in the fifth
The 2015 S.L. Green U.S. Men’s and U.S. Women’s Championships top four seeds will comprise Friday’s semi-finals after the opening day of match play Thursday, while open age division match play is set to begin on the surrounding courts at the McArthur Squash Center at Boar’s Head Resort in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Streaming live from the orange and blue glass show court, the eight-player women’s draw saw the top four seeds comfortably and quickly advance to the semifinals in three games. The final four are more than familiar with one another, as they represented the United States in the 2014 Women’s World Team Championship, achieving Team USA’s best finish of fifth place in December.
Playing in her first tournament as a full professional, top-seeded Amanda Sobhy will face her national team coach and mentor Natalie Grainger, in Friday’s first semifinal at 4pm ET. The elder Sobhy, 21, and Grainger, 37, contested the 2012 and 2013 finals with Sobhy winning her first national title in 2012, and Grainger collecting her sixth in 2013.
Eighteen-year-old Sabrina Sobhy must get past second-seeded world No. 39 Olivia Blatchford to have a chance at her second national title. Sobhy and Blatchford’s last encounter was on same court in November’s $10,000 WSA Boar’s Head Open semifinals, which Sobhy won in four games.
As in the women’s draw, the top four men’s seeds will contest Friday’s semis starting with top-seeded Chris Gordon and fourth-seeded Chris Hanson. Gordon, world No. 57, is in search of his second national title after winning his first in 2013, and will aim to go one better at Boar’s Head after losing in the semifinals last year. Hanson, world No. 158 will make his national semifinal debut, following a three-game quarterfinal victory over world No. 171 Faraz Khan.
Nine-time U.S. Champion Julian Illingworth’s quest for a 10th title remains intact following what was the match of the day against Gilly Lane. The two American squash stalwarts have faced each other at nationals each year since 2005, and met once again in the quarterfinals in front of a packed McArthur Squash Center gallery Thursday evening. In a riveting match that went into five games, Illingworth pulled out the fifth 11-9 to earn his place in the semifinals.
Illingworth awaits second-seeded world no. 69 Todd Harrity, who advanced to the semis with a rapid-fire three-game victory over Dylan Cunningham, in a rematch of the 2014 at 7pm ET.
As the professional finals are decided on the glass court, 140 adults will take to the surrounding courts to compete in 14 open age divisions ranging from 35+ to 80+.
Follow all open age division scores live on www.clublocker.com, and use the Club Locker player tracker to follow your progress throughout the tournament.
Pictures courtesy of US Squash