The court set up for the U.S. Open in the Daskalakis Athletic Center. Photo by Steve Line/SquashPics.com.
For the fifth straight year, Drexel’s Daskalakis Athletic Center again becomes the center of the squash world when it hosts the 2015 Delaware Investments U.S. Open Squash Championship.
A meeting of the best players from around the world that will be free for Drexel students, faculty and staff to attend, the U.S. Open begins with the first qualifying rounds Thursday and will continue until Oct. 17 when the best men and women square off in the finals.
With one of the sport’s pinnacle events just days away, U.S. Squash’s Senior Vice President of Operations Dent Wilkens clued DrexelNow in to some of the excitement to look for over the next two weeks.
Nicol David. Photo by Steve Line/SquashPics.com.
Looking for Redemption?
No. 2 seed Nicol David is the defending U.S. Open champion but she was recently knocked off the No. 1 spot, a position she held for a record nine years.
“She’ll be looking to show she’s still the best at the U.S. Open, potentially by beating rival and new No. 1 Raneem El Welily,” Wilkens said.
All Egypt, All the Time
Because of the way the U.S. Open field is arranged, the men’s quarterfinal will likely feature the world No. 1 Mohamed Elshorbagy squaring off against the former No. 1 and current world champion Ramy Ashour. Both players were born in Egypt, with Elshorbagy hailing from Alexandria and Ashour from Cairo.
It’s definitely not out of the question that Ashour could unseat Elshorbagy.
“Ashour defeated Elshorbagy in last season’s world championship final in a dramatic five-game match,” Wilkens recounted.
The Sobhy sisters will headline the American contingent of the U.S. Open this year.
Amanda Sobhy is the older sister. She graduated from Harvard this spring after an undefeated college career.
Amanda Sobhy. Photo by Steve Line/SquashPics.com.
“She’ll be playing in her first U.S. Open as a full-time professional,” according to Wilkins.
During her senior year at Harvard, Sobhy reached the world’s top ten. Ranked 11th heading into the U.S. Open, she appears poised to make some noise, as the left-hander is coming off her second U.S. Nationals title this spring and won the NetSuite Open in San Francisco in September.
At the same time, her sister, Sabrina Sobhy, just entered her freshman year at Harvard and will be participating in the U.S. Open’s main draw.
Ranked 51st, Sobhy is definitely a contender, as she beat her big sister in the 2014 U.S. Nationals.
A Familiar Face
Drexel’s own squash coach, John White, will be competing in the U.S. Open and fighting his way into the main draw at the Recreation Center.
The world’s No. 1 player in 2004, White will need to win two matches at the Recreation Center to put himself under the lights in the Daskalakis Athletic Center.
White, who has led Drexel squash since 2011, is known as one of the hardest hitters in the history of the sport, once hitting a ball that clocked at 172 mph.
Big Money Up for Grabs
Standing at $300,000, this is the biggest purse ever at the U.S. Open, and the prizes are equal for both the men and women.
“The U.S. Open was the first major tournament to offer full prize money parity for men and women several years ago,” Wilkens said. “Since then, several major world squash events have followed suit.”
Looking to catch the action? Tickets are available at the U.S. Open site here, but are free at the door for Drexel students, faculty and staff with Drexel ID.