Twenty-four female squash players will convene in Lancaster next week for the Hamilton Open, all hoping to reach the level at which Amanda Sobhy, the event’s honorary chairman, has lived since she was a teenager.
Sobhy, the third-ranked womens’ player in the world and top-ranked American ever, won’t be playing when the Professional Squash Association tournament begins at Franklin & Marshall College Tuesday.
She has helped organize and promote the event along with co-Chairs and Hamilton Club members King Knox and Bob Falk. She will officiate the semifinals and finals, to be played Friday and Saturday at the Hamilton Club.
“I’m excited to get into the space of running events and being a tournament promoter,’’ Sobhy said during a kickoff luncheon at the Hamilton Club Aug. 26.
“This is a fantastic way for me to get my feet wet and start learning the business. It’s something I’m interested in doing post-career, which maybe can happen in like five years.’’
Sobhy, 28, grew up on Long Island in a squash family. Yes, there are such things, even in America. Her Dad is from Egypt, where he was a pro player. Her mom was involved in running tournaments in New York City, where her parents met.
Amanda played tennis, soccer and other sports as a child but, “I found squash to be more high intensity, fast-paced, and more fun.’’
She played in her first tournament at 11, and won the World Junior Championship on her 17th birthday.
High-level squash is like tennis in that world-class players generally don’t play in college.
“The stigma was that is (that if) you went to college, your squash would drop off,’’ she said. “So if you’re serious, you go straight to the pro tour. I said, no, you can do both.’’
She went to Harvard, was undefeated in college, won the NCAAs four straight years, and improved her world ranking from 17th, at age 17, to 10th, upon college graduation, in 2015.
Last month may have been the best month of her career. Sobhy won the Oracle NetSuite Open without dropping a game, beating world No. 7 and No. 9 in the process. She also reached the semifinals of the CIB Egyptian Open in Cairo, where she lost to world No. 2 Nouran Gohar, who won the event.
Sobhy was named PSA womens’ world player of the month for September.
Lancaster has some small squash tradition, because of the Hamilton Club courts and F&M being among the relatively few colleges where the sport is played intercollegiately.
Sobhy played an exhibition here in 2016, and became friendly with Knox and Falk, which started the wheels in motion leading to next week’s tournament.
The purse will be $10,000, of which the winner will receive $1,800. The players, who come from 18 countries, rank from 40-100 in the world.
First- and second-round matches Tuesday and Wednesday will be played at the courts at F&M’s Mayser Center. They are free and open to the public.
The quarterfinals, semifinals and finals, to be played at the Hamilton Club Thursday, Friday and Saturday, are sold out.
All matches will be livestreamed at psaworldtour.com/tournaments.
Revenues from the tournament after expenses will go toward Squash Aces, a mentoring and tutoring program that pairs Franklin & Marshall College students with 6-12th graders at Reynolds Middle School and McCaskey.
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