The high US women’s squash currently finds itself on is rivalled only by the defensive lobs regularly thrown up by its leading protagonist Amanda Sobhy.
In a development that would have been unthinkable ten years ago, the US team reached the final of the WSF Women’s World Team Championships in Cairo in December (having never previously finished better than fifth).
Sobhy (pictured, top), a figurehead of US women’s squash for the last decade, is now joined in the top 20 by three of her compatriots in the form of her sister Sabrina Sobhy, Olivia Clyne and Olivia Fiechter.
The latter of this trio broke into the world’s top 10 in March 2022.
‘An eye on first place’
Although US squash is having to contend with the meteoric rise of pickleball in the country, its star is unquestionably on the rise, at least at an elite level.
In an end-of-year message on US Squash’s website, CEO Kevin Klipstein paid tribute to the “four exceptional women” who made the World Teams final earlier in the month (losing out to Egypt).
“Second place, with a realistic eye towards first in the near future; wow. To Amanda Sobhy, Olivia Fiechter, Sabrina Sobhy and Olivia Clyne—thank you for your commitment and hard work for so long that led to that inspiring performance,” he wrote.
The non-profit body’s four-pronged strategy to build the game’s popularity is enjoying traction, Klipstein claimed.
This includes the construction in 2021 of an 18-court national squash centre in Philadelphia, which recently hosted nearly 1,000 players from 42 nations at the US Junior Open.
US Squash has also invested significantly in SaaS software that makes it easier for fans to follow results in real-time and for squash pros to run tournaments, he went on.
Targeting ten-fold increase
Klipstein also expressed an ambition to increase the number of regular and casual squash participants in the US by ten-fold, to 1.5 million and 14 million, respectively.
“To do so we will need to reduce the cost to build courts, pioneer the construction of outdoor squash courts on public and private land, and make a significant push to add public middle and high school squash programs state by state,” he said.
Bringing more top coaches into the game, particularly women, is the final of the four objectives.
March 2022 marked the first time that USA had two women ranked inside the top 10.
Reflecting on the achievement at the time, Fiechter (pictured above) paid tribute to the influence of national coach Ong Beng Hee, as well as US Squash.
“It’s an incredible feeling to break into the top ten and to know that there will be two American flags up there on the PSA ranking post for the first time ever,” Fiechter said. “It’s been inspiring to see Amanda reach as high as No. 3 and I am determined to try and join her as a dominant force in the top ten. With the level of squash Olivia and Sabrina are playing, and the support that we are all receiving from US Squash and Beng Hee, I don’t see why we can’t have four American women in the top ten in the near future!”