Winners of two consecutive national high school squash titles, the Brunswick School squash team’s expectations are, of course, sky high this season, especially since the architecht of the storied program, Jim Stephens, is in his last year as coach of the squad.
Stephens, who has coached the team since 1985 and has guided the Bruins to four national titles and 17 New England championships during his tenure, is retiring at the conclusion of the school year.
With that in mind, the Bruins have extra motivation to conclude their final season with Stephens in championship fashion.
“It’s super sad that this is my last year and coach Stephens is leaving with us,” Brunswick senior Brian Leonard said, following the team’s match against NEPSAC rival Avon Old Farms on Saturday. “It makes the season much more meaningful to us. We want to win the national championship for the third year in a row for coach Stephens.”
The Bruins improved their record to 4-0 by posting a 7-0 triumph against Avon Old Farms at Stephens Squash Center, which is named of course, after coach Stephens.
Senior Nick Spizzirri continued his successful season at the No. 1 spot for the Bruins, defeating Avon’s Khamal Cumberbatch, 11-9, 11-6, 11-7. Spizzirri, who showcased his squash skills at the British Open recently, is one of the Bruins’ captains. He was victorious at the top spot in Brunswick’s title match at the 2019 U.S. High School Team Squash Championships in 2019 at Trinity College, which will again hold this year’s national tournament.
“It’s awesome to be captain this year and held lead the team and mentor the younger kids,” said Spizzirri, who will play squash at the University of Pennsylvania. “It’s fun to take on that role and help in their development as players, while showing them the ropes. Leading them is what I enjoy most about being a senior on the team.”
Spizzirri starred for the Bruins’ squash program for numerous seasons under Stephens leadership.
“Coach Stephens has played such an important role in my life,” Spizzirri said. “He teaches you how to be a gentleman on and off the court. Sharing my last year on the team with him is one of the biggest moments of my life.”
Senior Dana Santry gave the Bruins a 3-0 victory at No. 2 Saturday, beating Avon’s C.J. Baldini, 11-5, 11-7, 11-8. Santry clinched Brunswick’s victory against Haverford School at the 2019 U.S. High School Team Squash Championships.
“He is a big, strong kid who is new to Avon, so I just tried to play patiently and tried not to put the ball away too early,” Santry said.
The Bruins return their entire roster from last season’s championship squad, which also captured the NEPSAC title.
“We are a really talented team, so we are pretty much trying to do the same thing as last year and hopefully, prevail,” Santry said. “We are all working hard for nationals.”
Leonard, a senior, was a 3-0 winner for the Bruins against Matt Lazor (11-8, 11-2, 11-3).
“I played him a couple of times in prior years, he’s a great player,” Leonard said of his win against Lazor. “I think in the first game I came out a little slow, but the second game I had my game plan down and I came out focused and was ready to play. This is our only home match of the year and this is a team we’ll definitely see at nationals, so we were looking forward to it.”
Mac Aube won his match at the No. 4 position for Brunswick, 11-4, 11-5, 11-9, against Hudson Dunn.
“They were a very good team,” Stephens said of Avon. “The results look like we beat them pretty badly, but it wasn’t true. They were very competitive and they have a very deep and talented team.”
At No. 5, senior Pierce Henderson of the Bruins notched a 10-12, 11-4, 11-4, 11-8 victory over Henry Culhane. Patrick Keller was a 3-0 winner (11-2, 11-2, 11-1) for the home team at the sixth spot, while Coulter Mackesy posted an 11-3, 11-0, 11-3 triumph at No. 7. In an exhibition match at No. 8, Brunswick’s Tad Carney was victorious, 3-0 (11-2, 11-0, 11-3).
“We’ve been working hard after Christmas break,” said Mackesy, who will play lacrosse at Princeton. “We brought our top eight guys back from last year, which is good. Most of the guys have been training hard since the summer and have continued to play every day.”
The U.S. High School Squash Championships takes place Feb. 21-23 at Trinity College in Hartford.
“This is one of the best teams we’ve ever had,” said Stephens’ whose Bruins have made 12 appearance in the national tournament’s finals since 2004. “We are strong at every position.”