World-class squash player Amanda Sobhy was “cruising” through the semifinals of the Ciudad de Floridablanca in Colombia on March 10. The tournament took place at a glass squash court on top of a mountain next to the Ecoparque Cerro del Santísimo, a tall statue of Jesus Christ. She was one match point away from advancing to the finals for a chance to win what she called the biggest tournament title in her career. Sobhy pushed off her left leg to return a shot from her opponent and she fell to the ground. She turned to Olivia Blatchford, her opponent who is also a member of the U.S. National Squash Team and asked if she hit her leg with the racquet. When Blatchford replied saying “No,” she knew at that moment that she had ruptured her Achilles.
Now, the No. 1 squash player in the U.S., and No. 6 in the world — the highest rank for any American in history — is back in her hometown at her mother’s home in Sea Cliff, recovering from a successful 90-minute surgery. The 23-year-old superstar has her left leg in a cast while her right foot is covered in elastic bandages as she was also recovering from plantar fasciitis. She won’t be back on her feet for another month. Additionally, she will not be able to compete until November.
Even though Sobhy’s rank will likely drop due to her time off, she has remained upbeat and optimistic since the night of her untimely injury. She said was shocked about the injury at first, but she knows that “life goes on.”
“Good things will come out of this,” she said. “I’m going to use this time to build myself from the ground up.”
Sobhy intends on using this time to rest, reflect, and recover. She also plans to use her recovery period to showcase her other talents. A vocalist, Sobhy has performed at the T.D. Garden in Boston, Massachusetts for an NHL game. She views this as an opportunity to briefly take her mind off the game and refocus.
“I have never had this much time off,” she admitted. “I think this is just going to make me more determined to get back and to become the No.1 player in the world.”
Sobhy’s competitive edge and passion for the sport came from her family. She started playing squash competitively at 11 after years of tagging along with her brother, Omar, who played several tournaments. Her father, Khaled was one of the top players in Egypt during the 1980s and her mother, Jodie, coordinated squash tournaments in New York City at the time, which is how they met.
A multisport athlete, Sobhy also played tennis along with several other sports growing up. At one point, her father made her choose between tennis and squash, and she chose the latter. Sobhy knew by her junior year at North Shore High School that she could play the sport professionally. She competed in numerous tournaments around the U.S. and the world as an amateur. One of her most notable achievements as a high school student-athlete came on her 17th birthday when she became the first American to win a world championship title at the World Junior Squash Championship.
“I knew from then on that I love the sport, I love competing, and I love to win,” she said.
Sobhy was already ranked as one of the top 20 players in the world before she graduated high school. She was recruited by Harvard University, where she became a four-time NCAA squash champion. She had not lost a single match during her years at Harvard.
Just a few months after graduating from Harvard in 2015, she made squash history by winning three gold medals in a single Pan American Games. She admitted that there is a little pressure to be the top ranked player in U.S. history and an ambassador as well. The popularity of squash in the U.S. is based on her success, Sobhy said, and this is the kind of pressure that can “make or break” an athlete.
“I can either use it to fuel myself or I can let it paralyze me,” she said. “I love competing for my country and I love representing the U.S.”