US SQUASH

Amanda Sobhy Tops World No. 7 Perry in Cincinnati Cup Final

(l-r): Sarah-Jane Perry, Nathan Dugan, Amanda Sobhy

Team USA’s Amanda Sobhy defeated England’s world No. 7 Sarah-Jane Perry in the $51,250 Bahl & Gaynor Cincinnati Cup final to capture her seventeenth career PSA Title and first of the 2019-2020 season Monday, February 24, at the Cincinnati Country Club in Ohio.

After enduring a difficult month of January that saw the American exit the Tournament of Champions and Carol Weymuller in the second round, the world No. 8 from Boston emphatically responded in Cinci, gaining momentum ahead of the ensuing PSA Platinum Windy City Open this week in Chicago.

Both Sobhy and U.S. teammate Olivia Blatchford Clyne fulfilled their one and four seeds in the PSA Bronze draw–the Cincinnati Cup’s largest prize money in the tournament’s fourth year. Blatchford Clyne, world No. 17, recorded two 3-0 victories on her way to the semifinals where she met Perry, the two seed. Perry was able to prevail against the American in a challenging match, pulling through 7-11, 11-8, 11-9, 11-4 after fifty-one minutes.

Sobhy’s path to the semifinals mirrored Blatchford Clyne’s with two comfortable 3-0 wins. Sobhy faced a difficult semifinal opponent in the form of three seed and world No. 1 Hania El Hammamy, but was able to dethrone the nineteen-year-old defending champion 11-7, 4-11, 12-10, 11-7 in forty eight minutes.

In the final, Sobhy recovered from dropping the first game to win 6-11, 11-5, 11-9, 11-1 in forty-five minutes. Sobhy celebrates her first title since the $55,000 Texas Open last March, and the second largest of her career. Both Sobhy and Blatchford Clyne now travel to Chicago to complete in the Windy City Open as the seven and sixteen seeds, respectively.

Read a first-hand final report below.

Cincinnati Country Club’s Nathan Dugan reports on the final:

Sarah-Jane Perry had not been in her best form in the early rounds but used her experience to find a way to win. Tonight though she started the match with accurate hitting and looked to be moving freely as she controlled a relatively one sided first game. Amanda’s response in the second was intense, as the world number eight used more holds and moved SJ to all four corners with relentless pressure.

The pace quickened and the execution of each shot was severe as her opponent, ranked one place higher, could merely stay in the rallies and hope for errors that just never came. The third was more of the same onslaught until Amanda completely missed the ball at 10-4. The distraction and humor created by her visions of grandeur of what was going to be the game winning shot, carried over for the next few rallies, as SJ crept closer and closer to 10-9. The rally that followed essentially ended the English number 1’s challenge, as SJ made a strange shot selection by flicking the ball crosscourt into the tin in maybe a desperate attempt due to the work Amanda had delivered to her tiring legs.

On paper it would be easy to presume that SJ quit in the fourth or didn’t fight to the death, but in reality it was quite the opposite. In certainly the longest 11-1 game I have ever witnessed, the play was as intense and physically brutal as the rest of the match. The only difference was that Amanda kept hold of the serve.

To think at 8-0 that a bagel was even on the cards seemed very wrong, and to see how hard SJ had to work to earn that single point was incredible. The fact that Amanda was giving a pumped up scream at the end of each rally as the game neared its conclusion, also showed how tough the squash was. It was a high quality match worthy of two players in the Worlds’ top ten, and the Cincinnati crowd loved every minute.

It is the first American name to be added to the Gaynor Cup trophy and Amanda vowed to back next year to try and defend her title.

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