TORONTO – Amanda Sobhy is the first U.S.-born
squash player to rank in the top 10 in the men’s or women’s world tour
and the first American to win a world singles title, yet she notes that
she wouldn’t have enjoyed her renowned success if it weren’t for her
doubles partner, Natalie Grainger.
The two won the gold medal at the Pan American
Games on Tuesday against host Canada’s Sam Cornett and Nikole Todd,
11-9, 9-11, 11-6.
“Thrilled to win tonight, especially against a
team that had the entire crowd behind them,” said Sobhy, who claimed her
second gold in as many days after winning the singles title on Monday
over teammate Olivia Blatchford.
Grainger, 38, and Sobhy, 22, teamed up in 2010,
but first met a decade ago when Sobhy was a 12-year-old pupil of
Grainger’s at Mercersburg Academy in Pennsylvania. Grainger was a U.S.
junior national coach and Sobhy was an apprehensive adolescent, new to
the sport and thronged by her parents to attend.
“She’s watched me blossom. When I first arrived,
I told my mom, ‘Take me home. I don’t like this,’” Sobhy said. “Then I
came home, and I was like, ‘Can I go back for a second week?’
“So it’s nice to be able to play with her after
all these years. She knows me so well and we get along. It’s nice to
play on the doubles tour together.”
Under Grainger’s guidance, Sobhy has emerged as
one of the world’s best. In addition to her pair of golds won in
Toronto, she recently capped a 62-0 record over a four-year career at
Harvard while becoming just the second woman to win four collegiate
“I’ve watched her basically to the point where she now beats me. It’s been pretty cool,” Grainger said of Sobhy.
“She has a tenacity about her and a great sort
of mental strength and ability to overcome a lot of things. She’s always
been a really strong and powerful player. You could put her through a
lot of hard sessions and she’s always ready to front up and do more.”
Such was the case on Tuesday, when the Canadians gave Sobhy and Grainger their closest match in Toronto.
“We were trying to break their rhythm to create
openings and in the end we did that just about,” said Grainger, a 2007
Pan American Games singles gold medalist.
The U.S. squash team has claimed medals in
women’s doubles (gold), women’s singles (gold and silver) and men’s
doubles (bronze), with the team event still to be determined over the
next three days.
“Now we turn our attention to the team event,
and we would love to claim a clean sweep of gold medals for squash in
the U.S.,” Sobhy said.