“One and done” is a common refrain for many top athletes participating in intercollegiate sports and headed to greener pastures as professionals. But not so for college squash players.
Trinity College has a senior, and Harvard boasts two recent graduates and a current freshman in the main draws of the Delaware Investments U.S. Open Squash Championships at Drexel University.
“US Squash and the College Squash Association (CSA) are partners,” said US Squash President and CEO Kevin Klipstein. “We both have the mutual goal of providing opportunities for college players to make the transition to pros. The results are positive.”
Most impressively, both recent Harvard graduates have cracked the top levels of the sport within one year of collecting their diplomas.
Amanda Sobhy, class of 2015, and Ali Farag, class of 2014, both enjoyed storied Harvard squash experiences and enter the 2015 Delaware Investments U.S. Open with momentum in their professional careers.
Sobhy, currently ranked No. 11 in the world, has already achieved the highest ranking for an American-born squash professional—male or female.
“I did not play the U.S. Open last year due to injury,” said Sobhy. “So this year my performance has the potential to improve my ranking for every win.”
Sobhy will play England’s Sarah-Jane Perry on Sunday at 1 pm in a rematch of the NetSuite Open finals two weeks ago where Sobhy prevailed 3-1 to take home the inaugural women’s trophy. The pair are now 1-1 head-to-head.
Farag, who is from Cairo and is currently ranked a career high No. 35, is within reach of achieving the highest world ranking for a male graduate of an American university. Yale’s Julian Illingworth attained a career high world ranking of No. 24 in 2012 six years after receiving his degree.
Farag reached the main draw of the U.S. Open by qualifying only to face world No. 7 Simon Rösner in the first round where he lost a hard-fought match 3-1.
Following in Farag’s footsteps, Trinity senior Kanzy El Defrawy, who is also a native of Cairo, is currently ranked world No. 36 and also qualified for the main draw of the U.S. Open. She will face fellow Egyptian and No. 12 seed Nouran Gohar on Sunday evening. (Check out El Defrawy’s exciting style of play)
El Defrawy is concentrating hard on the U.S. Open before her intercollegiate squash season gets underway in November and the specter of another Sobhy sister appears on court when Trinity faces Harvard on January 28.
Sabrina Sobhy, taking a page from her sister’s playbook, entered Harvard in September and will likely play No. 1 for the Crimson. Granted a wild card into the U.S. Open main draw based on her current world No. 51 ranking, Sobhy takes the court against Omneya Abdel Kawy, the tournament’s No. 6 seed.
For these four athletes, it can certainly be said that their progress is not being measured only by degrees.