World No.7 Amanda Sobhy came out on top in the all-American battle at the CIB Black Ball Open with an 11-8, 11-7, 11-5 win over compatriot Olivia Fiechter on the opening day at the PSA World Tour Gold event.
The two Americans are no strangers to each other with both currently being based in Philadelphia for their training. However, they have played each other just twice previously on the Tour with Sobhy taking both of those victories.
It was World No.32 Fiechter who started the brighter this time out though, as she caused problems for Sobhy to take a 5-2 lead early on in the first, but Sobhy kept her concentration and got back level to 8-8 where errors began to creep into the lower-seeded American’s game and World No.7 Sobhy took advantage to edge the first game.
Fiechter once again snuck ahead in the second but some bad decisions at crucial moments cost her, as from the mid-point of the game onwards once again Sobhy was again able to capitalise with a quick run of points to double her lead.
The third saw Sobhy dominate play and cement more of her trademark game as she closed out the straight-games win in 29 minutes to set up a second round tie with Egypt’s Nadine Shahin.
“We’re both based in Philly, we train every week and play a practice match every week, so we were just excited to fly all the way to Egypt to play another practice match!”
“We were joking around saying that we should just play in Philly and then the winner flies to Egypt. She’s improved a ton, even though my record against her has me winning, each time gets tougher and tougher. She’s climbing up the rankings, which is phenomenal to see squash in the US and see other countries represented in the later rounds of tournaments – it’s nice not being the only US player.
“We’re in a very awkward limbo phase [in Philadelphia] because the national centre won’t be finished until the end of February/March and originally planned for August, so we all moved and then with our funding being dropped, it’s been tough but thankfully the Philly squash community is thriving and we have got set up in the area at other clubs and there’s enough people to hit with and still train and improve during this time.
“I have a pretty horrendous record in Cairo, I haven’t really won the last couple of times I’ve been here, so that’s been lingering in the back of my mind and I wanted to get a win on board and try and reverse the scoreline. I wouldn’t say my performance was rock solid but I got by and I’m happy with that and hopefully I can keep improving.”
Fiechter added: “I think I was taking the ball in a bit too soon, rushing it and her counter-punch was killing me. Also, I was not covering the court the way I wanted to, but it's mainly due to the way she hits the ball.
“My aim was to try and get in front of her, twist and turn her to try and disturb her game. That's the way to play her really, but I made too many errors length and width wise today.
“I'm a bit disappointed with my performance, we have had a few practice matches, I've been working hard with my team, was playing well, but it's all credit to her, and to how aggressive she played.”
 Amanda Sobhy (USA) bt Olivia Fiechter (USA) 3-0: 11-8, 11-7, 11-5 (29m)