By Beth Rasin
July 29, 2015 – 2011 North Shore High School graduate Amanda Sobhy added golden luster to her achievements as the USA’s best squash player when she made sports history in July by becoming the first squash player to win three gold medals at the Pan American Games. Making her Pan Am Games debut in Toronto, the reigning and two-time national champion started her gold medal campaign by defeating teammate Olivia Blatchford in the singles final and followed up by capturing the doubles title with partner Natalie Grainger. Sobhy closed out her golden sweep, which required her to play 11 matches in six days, by leading the US to victory in the team event as she and Blatchford notched victories to defeat host team Canada.
Playing at Toronto's Exhibition Centre in front of vociferous, sold –out crowds, loudest when her opponent was Canadian, did not daunt the Pan Am Champion. The finals of the team event were especially raucous. “I love that team energy,” said Sobhy whose unflappable focus, commanding strength and competitive drive were on full display during the competition. “The rowdier and louder the crowd is, the more I want to get into the match and play.”
The 22-year-old Sea Cliff native has competed in the sport’s biggest tournaments – including the World Open, the J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions in NYC’s Grand Central Terminal, the Hong Kong Open and the British Open – but representing the US in one of the world's largest international multi-sport competitions was a special thrill. “It was just incredible to be in the athlete village with all these amazing athletes,” Sobhy said. “It was fascinating to see all the body shapes of athletes from different sports, and to compare notes on training and competition.”
As for marching in the Opening Ceremonies with more than 6,000 athletes, representing 36 sports, from North, Central and South America, Sobhy grins widely. “I felt like a kid in a candy shop. There was so much to see everywhere you looked – all the athletes, 50,000 spectators and Cirque du Soleil performing. It was such a grand stage – I was in awe!”
Standing on the gold medal podium was incomparable. “I just had the biggest grin and when the national anthem played, I got goose bumps,” recalls Sobhy. “I was filled with pride and patriotism. The best was the team podium because there was so much more riding on those matches, when you are not just playing for yourself.”
Immediately after the Games, Sobhy spent time with family and friends in Sea Cliff, where she loves going to the beach and paddle boarding. The US squash star, who graduated in May from Harvard University where she majored in social anthropology and was undefeated in four years of intercollegiate squash play, won’t be resting on her laurels. She is fully committed now to her new career as a touring professional squash player. Sobhy’s love of travel will certainly be fulfilled as she competes on the women’s international Professional Squash Association tour. In the upcoming five months, she will play tournaments in China, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Monte Carlo, Hong Kong, Qatar and Malaysia before returning to New York City in January for the J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions in Grand Central Terminal.
“I want to be world no. 1 and win the World Open,” Sobhy declares. “I also want to make an impact on the sport – especially to help grow it in the US. “ As the highest-ranking American ever, world No. 10, in the Professional Squash Association rankings, and with three Pan Am gold medals around her neck, Sobhy is well on her way.
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Photo credit: Samantha Paige
USA's Amanda Sobhy (l) defeating Canadian Samantha Cornett (r) at the Pan American Games.
Photo credit: Samantha Paige
2015 Pan American Games triple gold medalist Amanda Sobhy