US SQUASH

Sobhy Tops Urquhart to Open ToC Campaign; Willstrop Ends 10-Year Drought Against Matthew

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Amanda Sobhy (l) against Donna Urquhart (image: Mike Pepper Photography)

One year after reaching her first World Series final in front of a home crowd, Team USA’s Amanda Sobhy opened her 2017 J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions campaign with an emphatic three-game victory over Australia’s Donna Urquhart Sunday night in Grand Central Terminal.

Cheered on by a vocal home crowd, the twenty-three-year-old Harvard graduate notched her seventh-career win against the world No. 19, 11-3, 11-8, 11-3 in twenty-three minutes.

“It’s great to be back here in New York at one of my favorite events—I love it here and just enjoy being out there in front of so many supporting fans, ” Sobhy said.

“It fuels me that I got to the final here last year and I want to do better. I’ve also lost two World Series Finals and they say three’s the charm, so hopefully that’ll be this week.”

The Boston-based world No. 6 will face England’s world No. 11 Sarah-Jane Perry Monday evening at 7pm local time.

“It would be great to do well here. It’s a goal to win this event. I’ve been putting in the work and I know I’m fit enough to compete with the top players and have the confidence to be the best, so hopefully that can carry me through and help convert some of that into wins.”

Sobhy will be the sole U.S. representation in the second round after England’s world No. 4 Laura Massaro ended Olivia Blatchford’s tournament in three-games in the first match of the day.

History ensued in the second match of the Sunday when James Willstrop ended a ten-year, nineteen-match losing streak against fellow Englishman Nick Matthew.

Willstrop recovered from 1-2 down in games to complete his first over Matthew since the 2007 English Open Final in seventy-three minutes.

“It’s taken me a long time to notch that win against him, so I’m pleased, ” said Willstrop.

“Last month I didn’t play well against him and I was more disappointed with the performance than the result.

“I think the squash today was as good as it has ever been between us and we both played some very accurate stuff. I know what I’m capable of and I’ve been trying to work out the way to break him down for a long time. Today I did just enough to come through.

“And the best thing is I get to play here once again because I love being here at this event. To be out there and performing well in a good game of squash, it’s just brilliant.”

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James Willstrop (r) against Nick Matthew. (image: squashpics.com)

After the match Matthew said: “He deserved it—even when I was 2-1 up I didn’t feel like I was on top.

“He was the aggressor today and I felt like I was chasing it. He’s a class player and we’ve played some massive matches, so that win was coming some day. He’s too good a player to have a record like that.”

New Zealand’s Paul Coll pulled off an upset against Harvard graduate and world No. 7 Ali Farag in four games to progress to his first career World Series quarterfinal.

“I’m very happy—I’m was worried that I’d get knocked out in qualification here so to reach the quarter-finals is very pleasing, ” Coll said.

“I know Ali from juniors and know he’s a quality player who’s very talented with the racket, so I told myself just to focus on countering what he does and take it from there.”

“I’ve been training hard, like I always do, and it has started to pay off recently. I just try to play the way I like to play. I love the physical side of the game and I’m just embracing that and it’s working for me at the minute.

“Winning in December gave me a ton of belief that I can compete with these guys up at the very top and to be backing that up again this week is a huge confidence boost.”

All glass court matches are streaming live on SquashTV Monday from 12pm noon local time. For tickets, full results and more information visit www.tocsquash.com.

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