Amanda Sobhy has not just been good this season for the Harvard women’s squash team, she has been flawless. The freshman wrapped up her undefeated year this weekend by sweeping through five opponents at the College Squash Association (CSA) Individual Championships, held at the Alumni Gymnasium in Amherst, Mass.
Sobhy recorded impressive results against top Ivy League competitors, including a 3-0 victory against Julie Cerullo of Princeton in the semifinals.
“It was a fairly one-sided match [in the semifinals],” Crimson coach Mike Way said. “There’s not much to say, except that the difference in level of play was obvious to everyone. It was a very quick match.”
In the finals, Sobhy beat Yale’s Millie Tomlinson, 3-0. Tomlinson, the defending champion, gave Sobhy her toughest match of the season. Although Sobhy defeated Tomlinson in three straight games, Tomlinson took 19 points off Sobhy—the most any competitor has all year long.
“Millie played extremely well, and Amanda took a little time to settle in the first game,” Way said. “Amanda really had to get her focus back…. She came through in the end, but the challenge was settling mentally, especially in the first two games.”
Although the final was a little more challenging, Sohby showed throughout the weekend why she was the No. 1 seed heading into the tournament. The freshman won all five of her matches in three games, and gave up at most seven points in one game. In the end, her opponents combined to score only 47 points against her, compared to her 165.
“There was definitely a lot [of] pressure on me, because I was definitely the big favorite to win,” Sobhy said. “At such a high level, there’s pressure to live up to, but I’ve been in these situations before and know how to handle [it].”
But this was not the first time that Sobhy has shown her power on the squash court. The Sea Cliff, N.Y. native was perfect all season at the No. 1 spot for Harvard, going 15-0 overall and 6-0 in Ivy League contests.
Some of the freshman’s most convincing wins came at crucial times for Harvard. Sobhy’s 3-0 sweep of the Tigers’ Cerullo helped the Crimson remain undefeated in a tight contest that Harvard won, 5-4. Sobhy also contributed to the squad’s Howe Cup victory by defeating the Bulldogs’ Tomlinson, 3-0, which helped the Crimson earn its 13th national championship. In her Howe Cup victory, Sobhy gave up only five points to Tomlinson.
Sobhy looks back very favorably on her first season playing for Harvard.
“To win all three [Ivies, National Championships, Individual Championships]—I couldn’t ask for a better first season,” Sobhy said. “Especially being with such a great team—the girls are all a great bunch, and it just makes the experience much more enjoyable.”
Not only has Sobhy excelled in collegiate play, but she has also been a staple in the squash community at large as one of its most prominent players. She is currently the No. 1 ranked U.S. female squash player, and is ranked No. 20 in the Women’s International Squash Players Association. Sobhy has won five WISPA tour titles and is the youngest player to win four WISPA crowns.
Although many players at Sobhy’s level decide to forgo college and continue on straight to the professional level from junior play, Sobhy is happy with her decision to attend Harvard.
“Going to college and getting an education was always a main priority for me,” Sobhy said. “If you have the chance to get a Harvard education, why not? Plus, you play college squash to get that team experience, so I’m really glad I chose the college route. It’s only four years and then after that I can do all the professional tournaments that I want.”
One of Sobhy’s favorite victories was the 2010 Junior World Championships. A four-time U.S. Junior Nationals champion, Sobhy became the first U.S. player to ever capture the Junior World Championships crown.
“That was the greatest feeling because I won it on my 17th birthday,” Sobhy said. “It was a really good birthday present for me. Plus, I beat a girl I’d never beaten before, so it was a really great accomplishment.... It was good for U.S. squash and good for myself–it got my name out there on the map.”
Sobhy can now add a CSA Individual Championship to her fond memories of squash victories.