By Daniel Etchells |
Amanda Sobhy says she is back to full fitness as she aims to become the first American-born player to win the Professional Squash Association (PSA) Tournament of Champions, which is braced to get underway at New York City’s Grand Central Terminal.
The United States number one, a graduate of Harvard University in Cambridge in Massachusetts, made her comeback from a ruptured Achilles at the same event last January after a 10-month absence.
She spent much of 2018 working her way back up the world rankings having dropped from a career-high position of six down to 28.
Sobhy, who now sits at number 11 in the rankings, says that she is back to her best this time around and is hoping that some strong performances in the Big Apple will help her break back into the top 10.
“Making my PSA debut at the Tournament of Champions last year after being out for 10 months was an emotional roller-coaster for me,” the Boston-based 25-year-old said.
“It was a combo of extreme happiness and joy to be back playing again and doing what I love.
“[It went from having] a ton of nerves, doubt and fear of being out for so long and whether or not I’d be able to perform at that top level again, to finally just wanting to cry because of everything I went through and how hard me and my team worked to get me back playing at the professional level again.
“It was a lot.
“The biggest challenge was getting over the fear of injuring myself again or the mental fear of going all out in the movement that ruptured my Achilles.
“It’s always something I will need to address, whether it’s physically paying more attention to my left leg or mentally getting over the trauma of the injury, but the more I play, the easier it gets.
“I’ve definitely set some goals for myself this year since now I am no longer testing out the waters and regaining the confidence.
“I am back in full force and looking to get back in the single digits this year and cause some upsets.
“It should be a good time.”
Sobhy reached the Tournament of Champions final in 2016 – losing to Egypt’s Nour El Sherbini – and she is hoping that a partisan home crowd will help inspire her to even greater heights this time around.
“Starting the year off with my favourite tournament on tour is always exciting for me,” she said.
“Not only is it in such an iconic venue, it’s also on home soil, so I love having the boisterous, rowdy New York crowd supporting me.”
Sohhy has been given a bye through to the last-32 and will come up against either Canada’s Samantha Cornett or Danielle Letourneau.
Victory in that would see the American potentially clash with Egypt’s Nour El Tayeb, who lost to compatriot El Sherbini in last yea’s final, and she will look to replicate the kind of form that saw her beat the world number three at the US Open in October.
Top seed Raneem El Welily, the 2015 champion, and fellow Egyptian El Sherbini, the second seed, have also received a bye into the second round.
El Welily will face either Hong Kong’s Ho Tze-Lok or Egypt’s Mariam Metwally, while El Sherbini will go up against the winner of the match between Egypt’s Hania El Hammamy and Finland’s Emilia Soini.
The women’s event at the Tournament of Champions is due to take place between January 18 and 24.
A men’s tournament – featuring stars such as defending champion Simon Rösner of Germany, world number one Mohamed Elshorbagy of Egypt and Colombia’s Miguel Rodríguez – begins tomorrow.
Rösner, seeded third, will open his campaign in the second round against Australia’s Ryan Cuskelly on Thursday (January 17).
On the same day, top seed Elshorbagy meets either Egypt’s Mazen Hesham or Switzerland’s Nicolas Mueller and sixth seed Rodríguez does battle against the winner of the first-round encounter between Egypt’s Omar Mosaad and the US’s Chris Hanson.
Second seed Ali Farag of Egypt, meanwhile, will start his quest for glory against England’s James Willstrop.
Three-time winner Ramy Ashour has withdrawn from the event after failing to recover from a knee injury.
The former world number one from Egypt was due to make his first appearance of the season having been absent from the PSA World Tour since the British Open in May 2018.
His spot in the draw will be taken up by countryman Youssef Soliman, while England’s Joshua Masters moves into the draw and will play Welshman Joel Makin in round one.
This year’s Tournament of Champions is the second most lucrative event on the PSA World Tour during the 2018-2019 season.
It features a $360,000 (£282,000/€316,000) prize purse, which is split equally between the men’s and women’s competitions.
Republished with permission from insidethegames.biz.