12:22 am
22 Jun 2024

Harrity & Sobhy Secure Home Wins On Windy City Day One

24 Feb 2022

US duo Todd Harrity and Sabrina Sobhy claimed wins on home soil as the 2022 Windy City Open Presented by the Walter Family got underway at the University Club of Chicago.

World No.24 Sobhy equalled her best ever finish at the PSA World Tour Platinum event after getting the better of Sarah Cardwell, beating the Australian wildcard 11-3, 11-5, 11-3 in just 19 minutes to set up a second round encounter with Belgium's Tinne Gilis.

"It's pretty important, but just to play well is more important, and to have a good opponent and to have fans is also very important," said 25-year-old Sobhy.

"I am happy that I won in three, and I am happy that I accomplished all those other things, so I am pleased with how it went. I am very happy with how the first couple of tournaments [in 2022] have gone. It was definitely a confidence boost, but it was also quite exhausting.

"It is a weird balance of feeling good from the past couple of wins and coming into this tournament with a little lower energy than maybe if I didn't play these past events, but that is part of the journey and learning experience, to progress and to keep getting stronger with each game. We'll see how this week goes."

The day's biggest upset in the women's event saw England's World No.67 Julianne Courtice come back from a game down to get the better of Welsh world No.18 Emily Whitlock.

Whitlock started the better of the two as she stormed out of blocks and lifted the ball well to move her opponent off the 'T', but Courtice's response was impressive as she stormed back to take a 2/1 lead. In the second rally of the fourth game, Whitlock suffered an injury after chasing down a boast. Following a length break for treatment, the 28-year-old returned to court but her movement wasn't the same as Courtice closed out the win in four.

"Unfortunately, she had a fall and I hope that she feels better and gets recovery for it," said Courtice afterwards.

"It is never nice to win a match like that, but I am also happy to get through. It has been a really hard time, I have had a few knocks, I got COVID and have really struggled to get back from there. Since Christmas, though, I really feel like I have made a U-turn and I am on the way back up."

Courtice will play world No.1 and defending champion Nour El Sherbini in the second round, while the likes of Danielle Letourneau, Nada Abbas and Lucy Turmel also secured wins on day one.

In the men's event, the US No.2 Todd Harrity is through to the last 32 after his first round opponent, India's Ramit Tandon, was forced to retire from their match due to injury. Harrity will play England's Declan James next.

However, the country's No.1 player bowed out as Shahjahan Khan fell to Hong Kong's Tsz Fung Yip in a tight five-game affair. World No.30 Khan was outplayed in the opening two games but showed impressive resilience to weather the storm. Fung Yip recovered in the decider though to seal a 12-10, 11-3, 8-11, 12-14, 11-4 triumph to set up a round two fixture with Mexico's Cesar Salazar.

"I am happy to be able to win the match, because as you can all see, Shah is very, very tough," Fung Yip said.

"Any break of focus would have been a nightmare, so I am very lucky and happy to have got through in the fifth. During the pandemic, it was not easy, we did not have much chance to compete, especially overseas, so it will take some time to gain back the momentum. I am hoping I am going in the right direction to gain that momentum again to try to get back to a higher ranking."

Home favourite Nathan Lake - who plays at the University Club of Chicago - was cheered to the rafters by a partisan crowd. But, ultimately, the Englishman went down in four games to former World Championship finalist Omar Mosaad.

"He is a big guy like me, so I knew I had to move as much as I could," Mosaad said.

"Of course, he just moved to Chicago, so everyone was cheering for him, hopefully [they cheer] for me tomorrow. I am really happy with my win today, and I think the last few tournaments I have started to play well, and I hope to keep this going with the next match."

Elsewhere, former world No.1 James Willstrop came through an entertaining four-game battle with Qatar's Abdulla Mohd Al Tamimi and will take on No.2 seed Paul Coll in an eagerly-anticipated second round clash.