The 2020-2021 PSA World Championships presented by the Walter Family—which in 2019 became the sport’s first million dollar event and will offer that record prize fund again in 2021—returns to Chicago this week. The world’s top players will vie for the worlds most coveted title and equal prize purses for women and men, July 14-22, at the University Club of Chicago.
The world championships are the first major professional squash tournament on U.S. soil since the Windy City Open in March 2020, which was also staged on the all glass court in the University Club’s Cathedral Hall. Tickets are available on worldsquashchamps.com/tickets.
In 2019, the 2018-2019 PSA World Championships presented by the Walter Family made history by becoming the first professional squash tournament to offer $1 million in prize money, shared equally by the men’s and women’s draws. The 2021 world championships mark just the second time $1 million is at stake during the world championships as the event returns stateside following the 2019-2020 men’s world championship Qatar and women’s world championship in Egypt.
Egypt’s world No. 1’s Nour El Sherbini–who is in search of her fifth career and third consecutive world title–and Ali Farag–who captured his first world title in Chicago two years ago–lead the sixty-four-player draws as the top seeds.
A record twelve Americans are set to compete on home turf. World No. 7 Amanda Sobhy–the highest-ranked American–enters the women’s draw as the tournament’s five seed, and opens up her campaign on the glass court against England’s Jasmine Hutton Thursday at 7pm CT, 8pm ET.
Sobhy spoke with the PSA World Tour ahead of the event about what it would mean to win the sport’s most illustrious title and having home crowd support for the first time in sixteen months.
“The World Champs is something that everyone dreams about winning,” Sobhy said. “It is the pinnacle of our professional career, being World Champion, along with being World No. 1. If you were to only win one tournament in your entire career, World Championships is it! To say that you are a World Champion is something that no one can ever take away.”
Sobhy is joined by seven other American women, including three other top twenty-five-ranked women now based at the Arlen Specter US Squash Center in Philadelphia–Olivia Blatchford Clyne, Olivia Fiechter and her younger sister, Sabrina.
“It’s incredible, we are all based in Philadelphia and we are all such good friends and train all the time together,” Sobhy said. “I think it is huge to have all of us pushing each other to new heights and supporting each other. We train on court and then hang out off court and it gives us a great environment and I hope that by seeing us four doing so well and pushing up the World Rankings, it will give hope to the next generation of future juniors in the US to want to be inspired to go pro as well, and to continue in our footsteps because we are not going be playing forever.”
Blatchford Clyne, world No. 13, spoke with the PSA World Tour about the significance of the first major tournament in the U.S. in over a year. Blatchford Clyne opens up her tournament on the glass court against Switzerland’s Cindy Merlo Thursday, July 15, at 1:30pm CT, 2:30pm ET.
“After a year like this, it is probably even more significant than normal to compete in a world championship,” Blatchford Clyne said. “I actually haven’t played in that many world championships in general, I think the first one I played was maybe in 2017. I am really excited to play in the States. There have been major sports events on TV recently: we’re gearing up for the Olympics, Wimbledon, the Tour de France the European football championships. I think it is the perfect culmination for squash professionals and not only is this the pinnacle of our sport, in which we get to showcase it in such a beautiful way, but also it will hopefully signify the start of things getting back to normal, which arguably is more powerful than the event itself.”
Fiechter, who enters the tournament with a career high ranking of world No. 20, will be one of the first Americans in action on the glass court against France’s Enora Villard Wednesday at 1:30pm CT, 2:30pm ET.
Sabrina Sobhy, world No. 21, joins in on the second day of first round play Thursday on the glass court against Wales’ Ali Loke at 7pm CT, 8pm ET. World No. 42 Haley Mendez faces a monumental first round challenge against El Sherbini on the glass court Wednesday at 5pm CT, 6pm ET.
Eighteen-year-old Marina Stefanoni is set for for her second world championship appearance in Chicago and will take on Canada’s Danielle Letourneau on court 1 Wednesday at 1:30pm CT, 2:30pm ET. Lucie, Marina’s sixteen-year-old younger sister, occupies the wild card position and is set to make her world championship debut against England’s Emily Whitlock Thursday on Court 2 at 11:30am CT, 12:30pm ET.
Team USA will have five representatives in the men’s draw. World no. 45 Todd Harrity opens his campaign on the glass court versus Switzerland’s Dimitri Steinmann Wednesday at 5:45pm CT, 6:45pm ET. World No. 51 Shahjahan Khan will hope to repeat his first round El Gouna victory over Scotland’s Alan Clyne on the glass court Wednesday at 12:15pm CT, 1:15pm ET.
World No. 71 Chris Gordon opens up his seventh career PSA World Championship appearance with Egypt’s Mohamed ElSherbini on Court 2 at 12:15pm CT, 1:15pm ET. World No. 70 and men’s wild card Faraz Khan faces the daunting match up of Farag on the glass court at 7:45pm CT, 8:45pm ET.
World No. 78 Chris Hanson will be the sole U.S. representative on the second day of men’s first round play Thursday, and will play England’s Patrick Rooney on Court 2 at 6:15pm CT, 7:15pm ET.
Visit worldsquashchamps.com for more tournament coverage and information.