Darien star to play at Tournament of Champions
The highest-ever ranked American-born squash player, Amanda Sobhy, will make her comeback from a torn Achilles tendon to lead a trio of USA women at the J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions (ToC) Jan. 18-25 it was announced by tournament officials.
Joining Sobhy will be 15-year-old teen sensation Marina Stefanoni of Darien, Ct. Stefanoni, awarded the wild card entry into the main draw, is the youngest player to hold the US National Under 19 Singles title, which she won in 2016 and 2017. World No.12 Olivia Blatchford of Wilton, Ct. is also in the field
It will be the first time in tournament history that three American women have ever made the 32-player main draw.
Sobhy was ranked No. 6 in the world in March when she ruptured her left Achilles during a match. The 23-year-old of Sea Cliff, NY. had surgery on March 17 and was off the Professional Squash Association (PSA) world tour through the rest of the year.
“This is my home court and every time I play here, I get a little bit bug-eyed and feel like my jaw is going to drop off from smiling so much because it so unbelievably exciting,” Sobhy said of the four-walled ToC glass court that sits under the monumental chandelier in Grand Central’s Vanderbilt Hall during tournament week. “There is so much energy at the ToC it is electrifying.
“Right now, I feel like I am at 90% of full strength. Best news is I have absolutely no pain,” said Sobhy. “ I am training really hard for the ToC; I want to come back really strong. I wouldn’t have chosen ToC as the place to stage my comeback unless I was ready. I want to win this tournament.”
Headlining the women’s field are World No. 1 Nour El Sherbini of Egypt and her countrywoman world No. 2 Raneem El Welily, along with world No. 3 and defending ToC champion Camille Serme of France.
The men’s field will be led by world No. 1 Gregory Gaultier of France, No. 2 Mohamed Elshorbagy of Egypt and his countryman, No. 3 Ali Farag. Todd Harrity of Philadelphia, Pa, the highest-ranking American man on the PSA tour, received the wild card entry for the men’s draw.
Including Malaysia’s Nicol David and England’s Laura Massaro, along with El Welily, there will be three former world no.1s in the in the women’s draw. On the men’s side, there will be five former world no. 1s (each of whom has won the ToC title) competing in Grand Central —defending champion Karim Abdel Gawad and his countrymen Ramy Ashour and Elshorbagy; and Englishmen Nick Matthew and James Willstrop.
“The depth of talent and ambition on the Professional Squash Association (PSA) World Tour today is unparalleled,” said Tournament Chairman John Nimick, President of Squash Engine, Inc., “and with every one of the top-ranking players competing in the main draw, we are sure to see spectacular play at each of the 26 ToC playing sessions.”
The ToC has long been a favorite player stop on the PSA World Tour as the iconic Grand Central venue and the sold-out crowds affords the players the opportunity to showcase their talent and competitive drive in front of tens of thousands of spectators each day.
“Playing at the ToC is the closest squash players get to feeling like rock stars,” said Matthew, the 2012 ToC winner and three-time world champion