Ten months after rupturing her Achilles tendon, Team USA’s Amanda Sobhy is set to make her return to the PSA Tour in the 2018 J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions first round Sunday, January 21, in Grand Central Terminal.
The twenty-four-year-old Harvard graduate is relishing her return to the world stage on the same court that saw her reach her first career World Series final in 2016. Following that breakthrough performance, the Sea Cliff, New York-native spent fifteen consecutive months in the world’s top ten—reaching a career high ranking of world No. 6—before sustaining the devastating injury in March 2017.
“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 glass court in Grand Central’s Vanderbilt Hall. “There is so much energy at the ToC it is electrifying.”
Sobhy’s return will be against a qualifier, January 21, at 8:15pm local time. Although Sobhy’s ranking has fallen to world No. 28, she enters the main draw with a pinned ranking as the twelve seed.
For the first time in tournament history, three American women are set to appear in the ToC main draw with Sobhy joined by U.S. champion and world No. 13 Olivia Blatchford and two-time U.S. junior champion Marina Stefanoni.
Since the 2017 ToC, Blatchford has risen from world No. 27 to world No. 13 this month, which sees her bypassing qualifying into the main draw for the first time in her career. The twenty-four-year-old from Wilton, Connecticut sustained first-round losses—both against world No. 4 Laura Massaro–in 2016 and 2017, but this year awaits a qualifier as the thirteen seed Saturday, January 20, at 9pm.
Fifteen-year-old phenom Stefanoni will make her PSA World Series main draw debut as the women’s wild card, making her the youngest main draw player in ToC history. Current world No. 1, Nour El Sherbini, had previously been the youngest player having made the main draw as a sixteen-year-old in 2012.
In 2016, Stefanoni became the youngest U.S. junior champion in history at thirteen years old, which she followed up with a second in 2017 at fourteen years old. The Darien, Connecticut-native will face Egypt’s world No. 5 Nouran Gohar in the first round Saturday, January 20, at 7:30pm.
“My first reaction to finding out that I got the wildcard for the ToC was shock,” said Stefanoni, who won the U.S. Junior Open last month. “I was hoping for a local spot in the qualifier. I am so excited to be playing in the main draw against one of the top women in the world.”
Paul Assaiante, the Ganek Family US Squash Head National Coach, is pleased to see Team USA’s top female prospect given a chance on the big stage.
“In my forty-five years in this game seldom, if ever, have I seen one so good, so young,” Assaiante said. “Marina Stefanoni is truly a prodigal young person. When watching Marina play, it is easy to forget just how young she is! It will be fun to watch over the next few years this young phenom develop.”