Jim Stephens perfectly described his 35th and final season as coach of the Brunswick School squash team, following the squad’s victory at the New England tournament on Sunday.
“It was a perfect way to end the season, you couldn’t write a better script,” Stephens said. “This was an absolutely perfect season.”
Indeed, from an undefeated regular season, to winning the HEAD U.S. High School Team Squash Championships, to capturing the New England Interscholastic Squash Association title, the Bruins produced another memorable season in Stephens’ last season at the helm.
And the Bruins’ 2019-2020 campaign was in fact, their greatest achievement.
Brunswick finished the season with a record of 15-0, winning all of its matches by a 7-0 score. Each player on the squad, registered an undefeated record for the season for the Bruins, who became the first team to sweep all of its foes at the U.S. High School Team Squash Championships, which concluded on February 23 at Trinity College.
Sunday, the Bruins put the finishing touch on their season and Stephens’ esteemed career by posting a 7-0 win over Kent School in the championship match of the NEISA Class A Championships at Deerfield Academy in Deerfield, Mass.
The triumph marked the third time the Bruins beat Kent this season and gave them their ninth consecutive NEISA Class A title. They have won 18 New England championships since 1986 and the team was awarded the Brandes Cup for having the best high school record in New England this season.
“I knew our team was going to be very good entering the season, but I didn’t know it was going to be this great,” Stephens said. “All of the coaches at the tournament told me this is the best squash team they have ever seen.”
In in the NEISA Class A final against Kent School, senior Dana Santry was off the court first for the Bruins. Santry won his match at the No. 2 spot, 11-5, 11-6, 11-7, against Kent’s Federico Sosa.
Sophomore Patrick Keller (No. 6), followed with an 11-5, 11-6, 11-6 victory over Adrian Castillo and junior Mac Aube notched a 3-1 triumph (11-5, 11-9, 10-12, 11-7) against Kent’s Syan Singh at No. 4.
Senior Nick Spizzirri was victorious in his match at the No. 1 position for the Bruins, topping David Costales, 9-11, 11-5, 11-8, 11-9 and senior Brian Leonard, who was ill and missed the tournament’s first two matches, was a 3-0 winner at the second spot against Jonathan Sosa (11-5, 11-7, 11-7).
“Brian did not feel well and did not play in the quarterfinals and semifinals,” Stephens said. “But he was ready to play in the finals and went out there and played great.”
Coulter Mackesy, a junior, clinched the victory for the Bruins, giving the squad a 4-0 lead in the match by beating Kent’s Youssef Elsobaihy at No. 7. Senior Pierce Henderson notched an 11-7, 11-2, 11-3 win at the fifth spot in the finals.
The semifinal-round at the NEISA Class A tourney saw the Bruins sweep Deerfield, 7-0. In the quarterfinals, Brunswick was victorious against Milton Academy, 7-0. The lineup was the same except for sophomore Tad Carney successfully filling the role at No. 7 for the Bruins in the quarterfinals and semifinals.
Spizzirri (UPenn), Santry (UPenn), Leonard (Yale) and Henderson (Williams College) will each compete at the collegiate level at their respective schools next season.
“The kids were great all season,” said Stephens, whose Bruins were awarded the Brandes Cup for the 17th time. “They all said they wanted to win it for me. The whole team was determined to win all their matches, they wanted to defeat each opponent, 7-0, each match. I can’t imagine it ever happening again, with the each player on the team having undefeated records.”
After Sunday’s NEISA final at Deerfield, Stephens was presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award by the NEISA in recognition of his ultra impressive career.
“You want to go out on a high note,” Stephens said of his final season. “I feel I left the program in good shape. I’ve done what I can, as far as developing squash in the town of Greenwich. I’m very happy.”