Five USA players will attempt to reach the women's main draw of the Delaware Investments U.S. Open in the qualifying competition which will be held at Philidelphia’s Drexel University on October 6 and 7, although they will have to produce ranking upsets to succeed in that aim.
In the women's qualifying draw released today, Philadelphia’s own Amy Gross, who won her spot by coming through the pre-qualifying tournament, faces the hardest task as she faces France’s Camille Serme, the world number 13 and qualifying top seed in the opening match of the competition.
If the Frenchwoman, who was ranked as high as #7 just a year ago, disappoints the home fans as expected, she could well face another home favourite in the final round, should US former World Junior Champion Amanda Sobhy get past Kiwi Jaclyn Hawkes. Hawkes is ranked #19 in the world, a position Sobhy bettered before her studies at Harvard intervened, so this should be one of the contests of the round.
“So excited to be heading back to philly for the #UsOpen tomorrow!” tweeted Sobhy. “Good to be able to represent amurrica in such a prestigious event!”
Probably appearing in her last qualifying competition for some time will be England’s Alison Waters, the former world number three whose return from a long-term injury is almost complete - Waters beat Nicol David in New York’s Carol Weymuller semi-finals last week and has moved back up to world number eight.
Japan’s Misaki Kobayashi provides the first obstacle for Waters, followed by the winner between another former World Junior Champion, Egypt’s Nour El Tayeb, and another local Elizabeth Eyre.
The battle for the third qualifying spot involves Maria Elena Ubina, currently ranked the world’s 7th best junior. Her first opponent is Australia’s Donna Urquhart, currently ranked the world’s 17th best player, and the winner of that will face one of squash’s two rising stars, India’s Dipika Pallikal and Canadian Samantha Cornett, ranked #14 and #37 respectively.
The US has two shots at the fourth main draw spot up for grabs - multi-US National Champion Latasha Khan faces a tough match against England’s Sarah Kippax, the world #22, while the younger Sobhy, Sabrina, is up against world #12 Joelle King from New Zealand.
The odds are stacked against them, but there will be no shortage of home support at Drexel as the USA “fab five” [I must get a group shot!] go for glory ...
Qualifying Round One (6th Oct, from 12pm to 7pm)
Camille Serme (Fra) v Amy Gross (Usa)
Jaclyn Hawkes (Nzl) v Amanda Sobhy (Usa)
Alison Waters (Eng) v Misaki Kobayashi (Jpn)
Nour El Tayeb (Egy) v Elizabeth Eyre (Usa)
Donna Urquhart (Aus) v Maria Elena Ubina (Usa)
Dipika Pallikal (Ind) v Samantha Cornett (Can)
Sarah Kippax (Eng) v Latasha Khan (Usa)
Joelle King (Nzl) v Sabrina Sobhy (Usa)
Finals are 2pm to 5pm on 7th Oct.