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After conquest of Pan Am Games, Amanda Sobhy looks to take on the world in squash

Amanda Sobhy is a nationally ranked women's squash

Amanda Sobhy is a nationally ranked women's squash player from Sea Cliff who just graduated from Harvard University. Credit: Audrey C. Tiernan

Amanda Sobhy graduated from Harvard two months ago, swept the Pan-American Games in Toronto last week, and won a tournament-record three gold medals in squash along the way.

She's exhausted.

She also isn't done.

The former Sea Cliff resident and graduate of North Shore High School was the picture of domination in the squash portion of the tournament, which serves as a sort of Olympics for a sport that has yet to qualify for those Games. She won her singles title match, her doubles, and led the U.S. team to victory with a team-record six medals.

The women's team won gold, while the men earned bronze. Team USA also won a silver medal in women's doubles, and took bronze in men's doubles.

"I feel so happy, but I was exhausted and so thrilled to be done after finishing the last match," Sobhy said, noting that she now has a five-week break. Naturally, some portion of that will be spent training, because next comes Shanghai and the China Open in September.

"She was controlling the court and sending her opponent all over the place," said her father, Khaled Sobhy, who once was a professional player and who trained Amanda until she was 18. "Mentally, she's much stronger than before, as well as physically. She played 12 matches in six days . . . inside her, she was exhausted, but she could not think that way."

In singles, Sobhy swept the quarterfinals and finals, three games to none. Her greatest challenge, she said, was defeating Canada's top player, Sam Cornett, in the semifinals. Sobhy dropped one game there, but won decisively, 11-2, 3-11, 11-4, and 11-6.

"She was a very strong player and had the entire home crowd behind her," said Sobhy of Cornett. "The crowd was rooting for her . . . but I have my teammates and my coaches, and the support behind the glass. I tried not to let the outside affect my play in court and took it point-by-point."

The home team, second-seeded Canada, again proved challenging in doubles, when Sobhy and partner Natalie Grainger sped through the Brazilian and Colombian teams before dropping Game 2 of the finals, 9-11, to Cornett and her partner, Nikole Todd. The American duo bounced back nicely in the clincher, though, earning Sobhy her second gold medal with an 11-6 win.

On Friday, Sobhy, Grainger and Olivia Blatchford (whom Sobhy defeated in the singles finals), defeated Team Canada, 2-1, for team gold. They had previously swept Chile, Guatemala, Mexico and Colombia.

And though it seems as if Sobhy has done everything she can so far, there is still an international stage that will challenge her. Squash boasts many formidable opponents in Europe, Africa and Asia.

She's ranked 10th in the world, but with her professional career just beginning, there is a potential that one day she could be the best.

"She can reach anything she wants now," Khaled Sobhy said. "I'm proud of her and I'm impressed with her, because it takes so much hard work and effort. The only thing in front of her is working hard, but yes, she has the ability."

As a father, though, he seemed perfectly content with enjoying what she's accomplished so far.

"It brought tears to my eyes," when she won, Khaled Sobhy said. "I was very, very emotional . . . It's a lot of emotions, from all the effort that she's putting.

"Her mom and I, we're still financing everything. We finance and support her fully . . . [and now] graduating from college, she will be able to open for more sponsors. She can see the light at the end of the tunnel because everything is bright."

New York Sports