All eyes were on freshman Sabrina Sobhy as she stepped onto the court to face off against Penn’s Reeham Sedky at the Collegiate Squash Association National Team Championships. All were watching to see if she would live up to the expectation of the Sobhy name.
In this match, as in all of the matches that she played in this season, Sobhy rose to the occasion and won, and, in doing so, won the team championship for the Crimson.
For Sobhy, joining the Harvard women’s squash team had double the pressure to perform well—not only was she joining a strong team that had been dominant the last few years, but she was also looked upon to continue the legacy established by her older sister, Amanda Sobhy ’15. The elder Sobhy dominated collegiate play and won the CSA Individual Championships all four years as a member of the Crimson, and is currently the ranked eighth in the world by the Professional Squash Association.
“I definitely felt a little pressure but I went into the season knowing that my sister graduated already and I’m on the team now, so whatever happens, it’s basically just me playing,” Sobhy said.
Determined to leave a legacy of her own, Sobhy has responded to the pressure well.
By the time the Sea Cliff, N.Y. native arrived at Harvard, she had already amassed prestigious titles, including victories at the the U.S. Junior National championship and the Women’s Nationals in 2014—becoming the youngest to ever win the Women’s Nationals title.
She showed no signs of slowing down in college, making her collegiate debut at the No. 1 spot in Harvard’s match against Penn. Facing off against fellow first-year Reeham Sedky, Sobhy rebounded from a loss in the first game to get the best of Sedky, 3-1.
Sobhy went on to dominate in regular season play, going 7-0, with most coming in 3-0 sweeps, in the top spot to help her team to its 20th Ivy League championship.
“There was a bit of trial and error, there was some nervous energy, but the one thing she could always fall back on is she is the most remarkable athlete,” Harvard coach Mike Way said. “She can hold herself up, and be compared to any athlete. There is no one in the women’s game in our sport that moves like she does.”
The peak of Sobhy’s freshman season, though, was in the postseason. In the final match of the CSA team championships, she played once again against Sedky for the tiebreaker that would result in the championship title. Each of the games was extremely close, with the two players trading points in each of the four games.
By the fourth game, emotions were running high and tensions were mounting. Sobhy was up 2-1, but Sedky was not going down without a fight. The Penn freshman traded the lead with her Harvard counterpart right up to the end of the match, when back-to-back “no let” calls gave Sobhy the game, match, and tournament win for Harvard.
“I think this season was a really good one for the team, because we won the Ivies and the Nationals,” Sobhy said. “[Winning Nationals] was another huge moment.”
Although she was unable to finish off the season with a CSA Individual title, Sobhy finished on a high, receiving honors for her hard work on the courts. She was named to the CSA All-American 1st team and was the Ivy League Player and Rookie of the Year.
“I think what we saw was her evolving and beginning to understand what does it take to keep in charge of herself,” Way said. “I think she did learn a lot from herself. She’s thoroughly enjoying Harvard in her first year. She’s a very happy athlete and I think she’ll come more into her own next season for sure; as good as this one was, next year is going to be better.”
—Staff writer Katherine H. Scott can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.