US SQUASH

Team USA Achieves Best Women’s World Team Finish

L-R: Jeremy Mayer,  Sabrina Sobhy,  Amanda Sobhy,  Natalie Grainger,  Olivia Blatchford (image: Steve Line/squashpics.com)

L-R: Jeremy Mayer, Sabrina Sobhy, Amanda Sobhy, Natalie Grainger, Olivia Blatchford (image: Steve Line/squashpics.com)

The United States women upset fifth-seeded France Saturday morning to achieve their best World Squash Federation Women’s World Team Championship finish of fifth place, topping sixth place finishes in 1979 and 1983.

Two, three-game victories from player-coach Natalie Grainger and Amanda Sobhy over higher ranked opposition clinched the U.S. victory in the 5/6 playoff at White Oaks Resort in Niagara-on-the-lake, Ontario.

[6] United States bt [5] France 2-0:
Natalie Grainger (USA) bt Laura Pomportes (FRA) 11-7, 11-7, 11-7 (25m)Amanda Sobhy (USA) bt Camille Serme (FRA) 12-10, 11-7, 11-5 (37m)

Grainger (L) against Pomportes. (image: Steve Line/squashpics.com)

Grainger (L) against Pomportes. (image: Steve Line/squashpics.com)

With the order of play set as 3-1-2, Grainger, former world No. 1, led off against French world No. 54 Laura Pomportes. Grainger clinically dispatched Pomportes 11-7, 11-7, 11-7 in twenty-five minutes to give the U.S. a 1-0 advantage.

Prior to the No. 1 match, Sobhy had beaten Serme in their most recent encounter—a thirty-seven minute Hong Kong Open quarterfinal in August. A close first game saw Serme fight off three game balls to level at 10-10, at which point Sobhy edged out the game 12-10. Sobhy then maintained her momentum to win the match 11-7, 11-5, once again in thirty-seven minutes.

A jubilant U.S. team swarmed their teammate following the victory, knowing that they had just achieved the most successful Women’s World Team finish in U.S. squash history.

“It feels unreal, ” Sobhy said after the match. “It’s a better win than individuals because you’re playing for your team and your country. It’s such a good feeling, and I could not be happier to clinch the win for the U.S.”

“I’m so happy. I don’t care if it’s fifth place and they’ll be battling it out for first later. This feels like we won a gold medal and first place. Hopefully in two years we’ll make it fourth, third, and then maybe one day we’ll be up there holding the trophy.”

Amanda Sobhy moments after earning Team USA fifth place. (image: Steve Line/squashpics.com)

Amanda Sobhy moments after earning Team USA fifth place. (image: Steve Line/squashpics.com)

Player-coach Grainger expressed her pride in what the team had achieved having seen her fellow teammates develop over the years.

“It’s unbelievable to see them perform at this level now when I remember seeing them play as little girls, ” Grainger said. “To see what they’ve become, to see how tough they are, and to see them approach serious match play and competitive situations is incredible.”

Grainger hopes to see her young teammates continue to grow and tips the U.S. National Team for more success in the future.

“To bring home fifth is massive for us and, I think it speaks volumes for the future of U.S. Squash. I think my days are numbered playing alongside this impressive group of players, maybe I’ll be able to play now and again if they think I can manage here and there. These girls are a part of a strong group of young players coming through the ranks so it’s exciting to see what’s happening in the U.S., and the world will continue to see that for years to come.”

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