US SQUASH

Blatchford Clyne Lifts Second U.S. Women’s Championship Trophy; Harrity Ends Hanson’s Two-Year S.L. Green Reign

Olivia Blatchford Clyne (l) and Todd Harrity

The 2019 U.S. Women’s Championship and S.L. Green U.S. Men’s Championship culminated with both top seeds prevailing in the finals as Olivia Blatchford Clyne earned her second national title, and Todd Harrity ended Chris Hanson’s two-year reign to win his third national title Saturday night, March 30, at Squash on Fire in Washington, DC.

The women’s final fielded two past champions aiming for their second career titles, 2017 champion Blatchford Clyne and 2014 Champion Sabrina Sobhy.

Sobhy, the three seed, took an early lead the first game, up 6-3, which proved to be the only lead the graduating Harvard senior would hold all match, as Blatchford Clyne rattled off five straight points to go up 8-6 and take the first game 11-8. Blatchford Clyne, the world No. 19, then decisively earned a 2-0 lead with an 11-2 second game.

Sobhy remained within reach in the third, down 5-6, at which point Blatchford pulled away to clinch the title 11-6 after twenty-nine minutes.

“It’s an amazing feeling winning this event,” Blatchford Clyne said. “I came into this championship not knowing what the competition would be like. No matter who I was going to play, I knew it was going to be a battle.”

Blatchford Clyne is now just the fifth woman to win multiple national titles since the National Singles transitioned to softball in 1994. The Wilton, Connecticut-native praised Sobhy, who will join the PSA World Tour full time after graduating this spring.

“It was great to play Sabrina,” Blatchford Clyne said. “I’m really excited that she will be joining the U.S. girls on tour next year. The depth of women’s squash in this country has never been stronger. It’s an honor to be part of this team with so many accomplished young women. I’m vintage at twenty-six years old. If you think about that, we have some serious depth coming up. Egypt, you better watch out!”

The ensuing men’s final saw Harrity, the one seed and 2015 and 2016 champion, take on Hanson, the two seed and two-time defending champion. Harrity, who was making his first appearance in the final since 2016, came out ahead in the first game 11-7, but Hanson leveled the score in the second, 11-8. Harrity regained control to win a tight third game 11-8, before emphatically clinching the title 11-4 in the fourth after fifty-one minutes.

“Playing my good friend Chris was really tough,” Harrity said. “Chris and I have been playing together since we were twelve. I’m glad I was able to stay relaxed during the match. I didn’t really feel like the favorite. He won the last time we played each other, and we’ve gone back and forth for a long time. I knew it was going to be a great match. I want to congratulate Chris on a great tournament.”

Harrity defeated U.S. veteran and 2013 champion Chris Gordon to reach the final, and marked his first S.L. Green win against Hanson since the 2014 quarterfinals.

“Being the U.S. Men’s Champion means so much to me,” Harrity said. “It’s a great tournament for all of us who compete here. It’s the one we all want to win. There were a lot of nerves coming into this event as we all deal with the pressure of trying to be a national champion. It means so much to me to win this trophy again.”

For the first time, the new U.S. Women’s Championship trophy, donated by the Desai Family in 2017, was presented alongside the S.L. Green U.S. Men’s Championship trophy on the same night.

Blatchford Clyne and Harrity will likely both represent Team USA during this summer’s quadrennial Pan American Games in Lima, Peru, with the full squad set to be announced later this spring.

“It would be an honor to represent the U.S. at the Pan American Games,” Blatchford Clyne said. “Back in 2015, in Toronto, I remember winning the team event and watching the American flag rise, hearing our national anthem and receiving our gold medal. Hopefully, that’s not a once-in-a-lifetime thing. It was one of the most incredible experiences of my career.”

“It’s such an honor to play for your country and have USA on your back,” Harrity said. “Stepping onto the court representing the United States is an amazing feeling. It is such a pleasure representing your country and something I feel very fortunate to be able to do.”

Hundreds of spectators filled the Squash on Fire gallery for both finals–including the more than 150 National Singles age division competitors, who will vie for fifteen national titles on Sunday.

“Thanks to everyone who came out to support us,” Blatchford said. “We’re a huge community. The best part about squash is seeing everyone here. This sport means so much to us and is such a big part of our lives. My goal is to win the most nationals ever! So, I hope to be seeing a lot of you guys in the future.”

Watch National Singles finals live streaming and scores from all courts powered by Club Locker from 8am local time Sunday, March 31, on ussquash.com/live.

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