US SQUASH

Blatchford Leads U.S. Women’s Championship Draw; Grainger Returns at Chelsea Piers

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Olivia Blatchford (r) against Amanda Sobhy in the 2016 U.S. Women’s Championship final.

Twenty-four year old Olivia Blatchford is set to make her tenth consecutive appearance in the U.S. Women’s Championship, and the first as the top seed this weekend at Chelsea Piers Connecticut in Stamford.

Blatchford has enjoyed a breakout season on the PSA Tour, reaching a career high ranking of world No. 19 and making her first appearance in the Women’s World Championship second round this month. The Wilton, Connecticut-native will hope to follow up her international success with what would be her first career domestic senior national title.

Blatchford is seeded to reach her third consecutive final, having lost both the 2015 and 2016 finals against world No. 7 Amanda Sobhy. Sobhy misses her first nationals in six years after sustaining a torn Achilles last month. For the past eight nationals, Blatchford has bowed out against either Sobhy or six-time champion Natalie Grainger.

Grainger, the three seed, makes her first National Singles appearance since 2015, and will hope to repeat her 2013 national title success on the same court. Grainger is seeded to face a difficult quarterfinal match against two-time U.S. junior champion Marina Stefanoni. Stefanoni, fourteen years old, is making her first appearance in the national singles and will face Middlebury graduate Tiffany Hau in the first round.

University of Pennsylvania sophomore Reeham Sedky enters the draw as the two seed, the twenty-year-old’s highest seeding at the national singles. Sedky reached the national singles semifinals for the first time at Harvard last year. This season, Sedky represented Team USA with Blatchford at the 2016 Women’s World Team Championships, reached the college individuals final, and was named Ivy League Player of the Year.

Harvard has two representatives in the form of alumni Haley Mendez and Hope Prockop. Mendez, the four seed and world No. 52, is predicted to face Blatchford in the semis and will take on either Prockop, the 40+/45+ National Singles champion, or Access Youth Academy graduate and world No. 74 Reyna Pacheco in the quarterfinals.

Follow live streaming and scores starting Thursday, April 27, from 10am ET on www.ussquash.com/live.

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