Hartford, CT — Amanda Sobhy of Harvard defeated Kanzy El Defrawy of Trinity by a score of 3-0 to win the Ramsay Cup and the 2013 women’s individual national title today at Trinity College’s Kellner Squash Center.
Sobhy, a sophomore from Sea Cliff, New York, came into the tournament as the defending Ramsay Cup champion, undefeated in college play. Sobhy is well known to United States squash fans, topping her impressive junior career by becoming the first U.S. player to win the World Junior Championship, in 2010. In her two seasons with the Crimson, she had dropped just a single game — to El Defrawy.
El Defrawy, a first-year student from Cairo, Egypt, has had an impressive debut season in the college ranks. Playing number 1 for the Bantams, she won all but one of her regular season matches, and all but one of those wins was decided in three games. The New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) has already named her its 2013 Rookie of the Year and Player of the Year.
Before the Ramsay Cup final, Sobhy and El Defrawy had met twice before on the college stage. In early February, El Defrawy forced Sobhy to go to four games during Harvard’s regular season win over the Bantams, a match that was held on Trinity’s home courts. Less than two weeks later, Sobhy and El Defrawy met again at Yale in the finals of the 2013 Women’s National Team Championships. Sobhy’s 11-8, 11-7, 11-8 win over El Defrawy clinched the national title for the Crimson.
Sobhy came into this weekend’s individual championship as the top seed. She breezed through the draw, defeating Yale’s Gwen Tilghman, Penn’s Rachael Goh, Cornell’s Danielle Letourneau, and Penn’s Yan Xin Tan — some of the top players in women’s college squash — all by a comfortable margin. To get to the finals, third-seeded El Defrawy had to go through two former Ramsay Cup champions: Laura Gemmell of Harvard, the 2010 champion, and Millie Tomlinson of Yale, the 2011 winner. After sweeping both Anna Porras (George Washington) and Haley Mendez (Harvard) in the early rounds, El Defrawy went to four against Gemmell in the quarterfinals. Tomlinson, who had lost to five against El Defrawy in the regular season and won in four against her during the 2013 Women’s National Team Championships, made the Bantam work hard for her berth in the finals. El Defrawy prevailed in four: 11-7, 6-11, 11-9, 11-6.
From the beginning, the match was characterized by aggressive, hard-hitting play from both Sobhy and El Defrawy. Rallies were short and dynamic, the pace was unrelenting, and both players displayed good sportsmanship. At 3-all in the first game, El Defrawy dove twice to retrieve Sobhy’s shots; she got the first ball but narrowly missed the second. Her efforts drew blood — her own — leading to an injury time out. When play resumed, Sobhy won the next three points: on a tin from El Defrawy, good length, and a stroke. A crisp working boast from El Defrawy took the next point, bring the score to 4-6. Then Sobhy took off. Given almost free rein over the left wall, her forehand, Sobhy didn’t allow El Defrawy another point. She won the game 11-4.
The second game opened with a let ball, followed by three points to El Defrawy, which she won on a stroke, a tin from Sobhy, and another tight working boast, which she punctuated with a triumphant yell. Sobhy answered by winning the next point with a perfectly placed drop shot. Sobhy slammed a cross court past El Defrawy to tie the game at 3-all, and then the Harvard sophomore began to run up the score on pressuring length and a series of forced errors from El Defrawy. The Trinity first-year got in two more winners — a volley kill that had Sobhy on the run and a cross-court drop — but Sobhy powered through the fast-paced game, winning 11-5.
The third game started after a brief delay while El Defrawy had another injury attended to. El Defrawy stepped on court ready to go, and she took the first two points. Sobhy won the next two points by rolling a volley kill and winning on length. The score was tied at 2-all, then at 5-all, then at 6-all. Each time Sobhy tried to open up a lead, El Defrawy matched her, tying the game at 9-all. She reached match ball with a drop shot that hit the nick. In the next point, El Defrawy and Sobhy traded drop shots. El Defrawy dove to recover the ball, making the impressive get, but Sobhy sent the next ball deep, unretrievable. The score was 10-all. Sobhy won the next point and won the deciding point on a stroke.
The final score was 11-4, 11-5, 12-10 to Sobhy.
The win sealed Sobhy’s second consecutive national individual title. Given Harvard’s back-to-back team championships, Sobhy is now a four-time national collegiate champion, and her sophomore year isn’t even over.
The match helped cement El Defrawy’s status as one of the most exciting players to watch in college squash. From her jaw-dropping dives to her hard-hitting play, she makes every point worth watching.
Sobhy, however, remains on a different plane. With two years of college competition behind, she has yet to lose a match, and she shows no signs of letting up.
Congratulations to Amanda Sobhy, 2013 Women’s Individual Champion!