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Day TWO : the seeds join in as the quarter-finalists are decided …
Day ONE : Mixed Fortunes for Home Hopes
report from PSA, photos by Brandon Tobias
The USA’s Sabrina Sobhy and Todd Harrity progressed to the second round of the Squash On Fire Open, while US Men’s #1 Shahjahan Khan endured more torment at the hands of Nathan Lake on an entertaining opening day in Washington DC.
World No.24 Sobhy, younger sister of World No.4 Amanda and a 2021 Squash On Fire Open semi-finalist, got the day’s play off to a perfect start for the home crowd when she downed Hong Kong’s Tze Lok Ho 3-0. While the match was a more even affair than the scoreline suggests, the 25-year-old American was deserving of the win, fully utilising her impressive pace to cover the entire court and keep Ho guessing. Sobhy fought her way through two tight first games, then recovered from 2-8 in the third to set up an all-American clash with fourth seed Olivia Fiechter in the second round.
Speaking after the match, Sobhy said: “I’m feeling very pleased that I got through. We’ve never played before, or not since under 19s. It was difficult to have an 11am start and be the first match of the tournament, which is a new experience for me, so I’m just lucky I don’t have to deal with long jet-lag or anything. I’m honestly just pleased to get through to the second round.”
In the day’s final game on the glass court, Harrity overcame a spirited second game charge from France’s Sebastien Bonmalais to ensure that the US would have representation in both draws tomorrow, after US #1 Shahjahan Khan suffered his fourth defeat in two months to England’s Nathan Lake.
Harrity, 31, had looked the sharper of the pair in the first game, before an epic duel in the second wowed the crowd. Both players led on seven occasions in a helter skelter second game, with thrilling rallies at the front of the court dazzling the fans. Eventually, though, Harrity was able to take it 14-12 and went on to close it out 11-4 in the third to set up a second round match against Omar Mosaad.
Afterwards, Harrity said: “That second game was very important for me. It was very close and touch and go. At the end I felt I was getting tired, but I could feel he was getting tired, too and it was a good thing I won the first game because that gave me energy to push. On the Squash On Fire venue, he It’s a great venue, a great court, and it’s great to be in DC. I have friends and family here who can come and watch. I have great memories of here, I won a national title here so I felt really confident today because I love playing in this venue.”
Outside of the American contingent, the biggest cheers of the day went to wildcards Ineta Mackevica and Karan Malik, both of whom coach at Squash On Fire. There was to be no fairytale for either player, though, with Latvia’s Mackevica losing 3-0 to Malaysia’s Sivasangari Subramaniam and India’s Karan Malik going down by the same scoreline to Scotland’s Greg Lobban.
There was some joy for the qualifiers, though, with the day’s biggest upset coming in the day’s second match on the side court, where Hong Kong’s Tsz Fung Yip beat Egypt’s Moustafa El Sirty 3-0 in just 25 minutes to earn a second-round matchup with Mexico’s No.8 seed Cesar Salazar.
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