After a brief, one-year lapse in national titles, the two highest individual honors in college squash once again belong to Harvard athletes.
Sophomore Ali Farag and freshman Amanda Sobhy—both newcomers to the Crimson this season—secured the men’s and women’s CSA Individual Championships, respectively, this weekend at the Alumni Gymnasium in Amherst, Mass.
And the matchups were not very close, as Farag and Sobhy sweept five straight opponents, 3-0, on their way to the Pool Trophy and Ramsay Cup, respectively.
“I think that they are probably the two strongest players ever to play in college squash,” Harvard coach Mike Way said. “Definitely Amanda is. Some might disagree on the male side, because there have been some other very strong players. But there’s never been a male player as dominant and exciting as Ali…and there’s no one probably close to Amanda’s level.”
In the finals of the women’s national individual championship, the undefeated Sobhy took down the defending individual champion, Yale’s Millie Tomlinson, 11-5, 11-7, 11-7—Sobhy’s closest match of the season.
“Sometimes when you go through matches and they’re too one-sided, once you go up against someone closer to your level, you’re too used to winning rallies easily,” Way said. “Millie’s a good squash player, but the challenge was mostly inside Amanda’s head.”
In her first four matchups of the weekend, no player was able to capture more than four points in a single game, as Sobhy tore through the competition on her way to the Ramsay Division championship.
“Obviously, I’m happy to win the intercollegiate title,” Sobhy said. “My opponent [in the final match] played really well, and I was glad I got through it 3-0.”
Farag followed suit just one hour after Sobhy captured her CSA individual title, downing Columbia’s Ramit Tandon in a three-game match in the finals of the Pool Cup.
“[Ali] is a very exciting player with a beautiful touch and a lot of deception,” Way said. “His opponent plays a similar style…. It was beautiful squash, and hats off to both players. It was the most exciting finals that has ever been played.”
Farag nearly dropped the first game, just edging Tandon in extra points, 12-10. But the Crimson sophomore transfer student took the next two games with increasing ease, wearing down his opponent en route to 11-8 and 11-4 wins, respectively.
“The first game was very tight,” Way said. “It was a very close game, and Ali almost lost.”
Tandon entered the Pool Trophy’s final matchup with Farag on the heels of a win over defending national champion Todd Harrity of Princeton, 3-0, while Farag handled Trinity’s Vikram Malhotra by the same score in his semifinal.
With the wins this past weekend, Farag and Sobhy became the first pair of Harvard squash players to secure both CSA Individual Championship titles the same year since then-freshman Laura Gemmell and Colin West ’10 completed the feat in 2010.
But although Sobhy and Farag spearheaded the Crimson effort in Princeton, N.J., Harvard sent a total of 13 athletes to the championships this past weekend.