Eleven home players aim to shine in debut event at new National Center
By ALAN THATCHER – Squash Mad Editor
The 2021 U.S. Open Squash Championships will be staged in a sparkling new home. The competition, which began as a hardball event in 1954 and switched to softball in 1985, will be staged at the $40m Arlen Specter US Squash Center in Philadelphia between October 1-6.
Egypt’s Ali Farag and Nour El Sherbini are the top seeds as the world’s top 96 players look forward to the experience of playing at the venue for the first time.
The tournament moves from the nearby Drexel University to the former drill hall which now houses 20 squash courts, including two showpiece glass courts as well as high-performance training facilities.
The Specter Center is the new headquarters for US Squash, and the U.S. Open will be the first major squash tournament to take place in the new complex, which will celebrate its Grand Opening on October 2.
In the latest edition of the US Squash Digital Drive bulletin column Reflections from the Chair, Soo Venkatesan (pictured) says: “Behind our aspirations for excellence is a greater drive for growth, access and community. Fostering belonging among new and diverse constituents ensures a vibrant future for our lifelong sport.
“Next month’s U.S. Open will present our national governing body headquarters and home of Team USA at the largest community squash center in the world.
“Located in Philadelphia in one of 22 national Promise Zones, the Arlen Specter US Squash Center joins US Squash Community Squash Affiliate partners in Atlanta, Chicago, Cleveland, Harlem, Newport, San Diego, and Portland, Maine as community access hubs that welcome and integrate players from all playing abilities, ages, diverse faiths, and multicultural and socioeconomic backgrounds.”
Talking about exciting milestones forming part of US Squash’s “long game” investments in excellence and Team USA, she added: “The appointment of Ong Beng Hee as the Ganek Family US Squash Head National Coach comes at a pivotal moment for squash in the United States.
“We have four women ranked in the world’s top 25, an enviable national squash facility, and more athletes supported through our High Performance Program (HPP) than ever before, with 10 representatives in Cairo and Atlanta this week. Team USA is on the rise, with the community’s backing and our remarkable athletes’ grace and grit.”
Beng Hee joins a top team at the Arlen Specter Centre that includes General Manager James Neiderer, Executive Director Ned Edwards, Assistant Director Narelle Krizek and Director of Squash Chris Sachvie.
The U.S. Open returns to the PSA World Tour for the first time since 2019 after a COVID-19 enforced absence from the tour last year. Defending champions Ali Farag and Nouran Gohar will lead a star-studded line-up in Philadelphia next month.
Farag is the top seed in the men’s draw and will take on India’s Saurav Ghosal in round two ahead of prospective matches against Frenchman Gregoire Marche and former world champions Karim Abdel Gawad and Tarek Momen.
He is seeded to meet three-time U.S. Open champion Mohamed ElShorbagy in the title decider. ElShorbagy will line up against Malaysia’s Eain Yow Ng in the last 32, who he beat in the Egyptian Open last night, and is seeded to face compatriot Youssef Soliman, Peruvian Diego Elias and Allam British Open champion Paul Coll en route to the final.
Meanwhile, Gohar will go up against Egypt’s Rowan Elaraby in the second round of the women’s event before a predicted third round clash with Yathreb Adel. England’s Sarah-Jane Perry is set to meet Gohar in the quarter-finals before a semi-final clash against No.3 seed Camille Serme.
World No.1 Nour El Sherbini, the reigning PSA world champion and Allam British Open champion, will play either England’s Julianne Courtice or Hong Kong’s Tsz-Wing Tong in round two. From there, the Egyptian is predicted to face USA No.2 Olivia Clyne, USA No.1 Amanda Sobhy and Egypt’s Hania El Hammamy on her path to the title decider as she bids to win her first U.S. Open trophy.
There will be 11 U.S. players in the draw across the men’s and women’s events, a record amount for the U.S. Open. The wildcard spots in the women’s draw are taken up by the Stefanoni sisters, Marina and Lucie, who will play Canada’s Danielle Letourneau and Malaysia’s Sivasangari Subramaniam, respectively.
Faraz Khan and Timothy Brownell are the men’s wildcards and they will compete with Switzerland’s Nicolas Mueller and France’s Victor Crouin.
A total of $250,000 in player prize compensation will be up for grabs as will a qualification spot for the season-ending CIB PSA World Tour Finals. The winners will earn their spot at the showpiece event in Cairo next year.
The prize money will be split equally across the men’s and women’s events and all of the action will be shown live on SQUASHTV, while the semi-finals and finals will be shown live on the channels of contracted broadcast partners.
2021 U.S. Open, Arlen Specter Center, Philadelphia, October 1-6.
 Ali Farag (EGY) [bye] [9/16] Saurav Ghosal (IND) [bye] [9/16] Mazen Hesham (EGY) [bye] [9/16] Gregoire Marche (FRA) [bye] [9/16] Omar Mosaad (EGY) [bye] Sebastien Bonmalais (FRA) v [17/32] Mathieu Castagnet (FRA)
[9/16] Joel Makin (WAL) [bye]  Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY) [bye]  Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY) [bye] Tsz Fung Yip (HKG) v [17/32] James Willstrop (ENG)
[17/32] Nicolas Mueller (SUI) v [WC] Faraz Khan (USA)
[9/16] Mohamed Abouelghar (EGY) [bye] [17/32] Abdulla Mohd Al Tamimi (QAT) v Arturo Salazar (MEX)
Patrick Rooney (ENG) v [17/32] Borja Golan (ESP)
[17/32] Lucas Serme (FRA) v Ramit Tandon (IND)
 Tarek Momen (EGY) [bye]  Paul Coll (NZL) [bye] [WC] Timothy Brownell (USA) v [17/32] Victor Crouin (FRA)
Alan Clyne (SCO) v Karim El Hammamy (EGY)
[9/16] Youssef Ibrahim (EGY) [bye] [17/32] Greg Lobban (SCO) v Dimitri Steinmann (SUI)
Leonel Cardenas (MEX) v [17/32] Baptiste Masotti (FRA)
[17/32] Iker Pajares Bernabeu (ESP) v Nathan Lake (ENG)
 Mostafa Asal (EGY) [bye]  Diego Elias (PER) [bye] Ben Coleman (ENG) v [17/32] Adrian Waller (ENG)
[17/32] Tom Richards (ENG) v Vikram Malhotra (IND)
Todd Harrity (USA) v [17/32] Raphael Kandra (GER)
[17/32] Cesar Salazar (MEX) v Shahjahan Khan (USA)
Mahesh Mangaonkar (IND) v [17/32] Youssef Ibrahim (EGY)
[9/16] Eain Yow Ng (MAS) [bye]  Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY) [bye]
 Nour El Sherbini (EGY) [bye] Tsz-Wing Tong (HKG) v [17/32] Julianne Courtice (ENG)
[9/16] Nadine Shahin (EGY) [bye] [9/16] Olivia Clyne (USA) [bye] [17/32] Lucy Turmel (USA) v Liu Tsz-Ling (HKG)
Enora Villard (FRA) v [17/32] Melissa Alves (FRA)
[17/32 Mariam Metwally (EGY) v Lisa Aitken (SCO)
 Amanda Sobhy (USA) [bye]  Joelle King (NZL) [bye
[WC] Lucie Stefanoni (USA) v [17/32] Sivasangari Subramaniam (MAS)
[9/16] Joshna Chinappa (IND) [bye] Alexandra Fuller (RSA) v [17/32] Milou van der Heijden (NED)
[17/32] Nada Abbas (EGY) v Menna Nasser (EGY)
[WC] Marina Stefanoni (USA) v [17/32] Danielle Letourneau (CAN)
[17/32] Alison Waters (ENG) v Ineta Lackevica (LAT)
 Hania El Hammamy (EGY) [bye]  Camille Serme (FRA) [bye] Haley Mendez (USA) v [17/32] Sabrina Sobhy (USA)
[17/32] Olivia Fiechter (USA) v Menna Hamed (EGY)
Nicole Bunyan (CAN) v [17/32] Donna Lobban (AUS)
[9/16] Nele Gilis (BEL) [bye] [9/16] Tesni Evans (WAL) [bye] [9/16] Hollie Naughton (CAN) [bye]  Salma Hany (EGY) [bye]  Sarah-Jane Perry (ENG) [bye] Jana Shiha (EGY) v [17/32] Zeina Mickawy (EGY)
[17/32] Farida Mohamed (EGY) v Jasmine Hutton (ENG)
Mayar Hany (EGY) v [17/32] Emily Whitlock (WAL)
[17/32] Coline Aumard (FRA) v Tze Lok Ho (HKG)
[9/16] Yathreb Adel (EGY) [bye] [9/16] Rowan Elaraby (EGY) [bye]  Nouran Gohar (EGY) [bye]
Pictures courtesy of PSA and US Squash