US SQUASH

Team USA Produces Banner Day in U.S. Open First Round

Olivia Fiechter (l) celebrates her victory over world No. 23 Emily Whitlock

Americans Olivia Fiechter, Andrew Douglas, Sabrina Sobhy and Olivia Blatchford Clyne all recorded first-round FS Investments U.S. Open victories—three of which were the day’s most dramatic upsets—Saturday, October 5, at Drexel University and Racquet Club of Philadelphia.

Fiechter, Douglas and Sobhy’s results marked their respective career-first wins at the event–all of which took place against higher-ranked opposition.

It was Philadelphia’s own Fiechter who recorded the first breakthrough result of the day for Team USA in what was her debut on the ASB GlassCourt against world No. 23 Emily Whitlock. After splitting the first two games 11-9, 4-11, Fiechter gained control of the match, outplaying her twenty-five-year-old counterpart in the remaining three games 11-4, 11-3 in thirty-seven minutes.

“I don’t have words,” the Princeton graduate said. “I have my coach, my family and a million friends here and I can’t imagine anything more special than getting a win here. I’m just over the moon and can’t believe it.”

Last year Fiechter, coached by former world No. 1 Peter Nicol, rose more than 100 places in the world rankings, finishing inside of the world’s top forty.

“Compared to last year, the player I am today is completely different,” Fiechter said. “Going through my first season on the pro tour last year, I learned so much and my game is constantly evolving. I’ve put in a lot of hard work over the summer and I definitely felt more confident coming into this tournament and wanted to play well.”

Fiechter advances to the second round where she will face American teammate and world No. 8 Amanda Sobhy on the glass court at 5:45pm.

Sabrina Sobhy won her first career U.S. Open main draw match in her seventh tournament appearance

As Fiechter put in a winning performance on the glass court, Sabrina Sobhy was doing the same downstairs on the Kline & Specter court 1 against Egypt’s world No. 33 Mayar Hany. In what was their first career match up against one another, Sobhy prevailed in forty-eight minutes 13-11, 8-11, 11-9, 11-3.

“I was happy with my performance today, the first match of any tournament is always a little nerve-wracking,” Sobhy said. “Especially with it being in the U.S., I have family and so many friends that have come out to watch me, so I didn’t want to under-perform and lose in twenty minutes after they’ve come out here all the way.”

Sobhy, a double gold medalist at the Pan American Games this summer, is starting her first season as a full-time professional on the PSA World Tour this fall after graduating from Harvard in the spring. The twenty-two-year-old will face a stern second round test on the glass court Sunday against France’s two seed Camille Serme at 4pm.

“I found my game, felt comfortable and enjoyed it out there,” Sobhy said. “I’m looking forward to playing Camille on the glass. I haven’t really processed it a lot yet. Any tournament on the glass court is a fantastic experience and I’m really looking forward to it.”

Douglas, Pan Am Games gold medalist and a Penn junior, followed Fiechter on the glass court and put on an equally impressive display to the delight of the home crowd against France’s world No. 36 Lucas Serme. The twenty-one-year-old wild card put in a confident display to open the match, taking the first two games 11-6, 11-9. After dropping the third 11-7, Douglas rebounded to clinch the match 11-5 in the fourth after seventy-three minutes.

“I didn’t expect to be here, but it’s an amazing feeling,” Douglas said. “I have to thank everybody that has come to cheer me on. It means a lot for them to come out and support me and undoubtedly I wouldn’t have been able to do it without them. I just tried to enjoy every minute on this court and I played well.”

Andrew Douglas followed Fiechter in pulling off an upset on the glass court Saturday afternoon

Douglas will move to the Racquet Club of Philadelphia on Sunday to take on New Zealand’s Campbell Grayson. The Boston-based Kiwi overcame Egypt’s Youssef Soliman in the longest match of the day 11-5, 13-15, 11-7, 6-11, 12-10 spanning 107 minutes. Douglas and Grayson will vie for a place in the last sixteen at 4:45pm.

Blatchford Clyne was the last American on court in the first day of play, and notched fourth and final victory of the first round. The world No. 19 dispatched England’s Lucy Turmel in four games to set up a second round clash against New Zealand’s No. 5 seed Joelle King on the glass court at 1:45pm.

“It feels fantastic, it definitely wasn’t an easy day at the office,” Blatchford Clyne said. “Lucy is a fantastic young player and these young ones come and nip at your heels. I’m used to being the young one and trying to nip at other people’s heels! It’s a new experience with someone trying to hunt you, but I’m very happy to be through today.”

Elsewhere in the draw, world No. 42 Haley Mendez nearly added a fifth win for the U.S., but squandered multiple match balls in the fifth game against former world No. 1 Rachael Grinham. Wild cards Laila Sedky and Spencer Lovejoy soaked up the experience of their debuts on the glass court, but both fell short in three games.

View all first-round results and second-round matches on usopensquash.com/draws. Sunday’s match play starts at noon local time on the ASB GlassCourt, Drexel’s Kline & Specter Court 1 and two courts at Racquet Club of Philadelphia. Follow live streaming and scores from all courts on usopensquash.com/live.

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