GREENWICH — Avon Old Farms School is one of the squash teams Brunswick School looks forward to playing against every season — and for good reason.
The Winged Beavers are one of the teams that present a challenge to the powerhouse Bruins, who have 15 New England championships and two U.S. High School team titles to their collection.
Well, the Bruins were indeed challenged by visiting Avon Old Farms during Saturday’s showdown at Stephens Squash Center, but as they usually do, they rose to the important occasion.
Avon Old Farms won the first three matches in the lineup, but Brunswick won the next four and pulled out an exciting 4-3 victory in what may have been a preview of the title match at the U.S. High School Team Squash Championships next month.
“Our depth held out for us again,” said Bruins coach Jim Stephens, whose squad improved to 4-0 on the season. “Our guys playing at 4-7 won it for us, but I was also proud of our top three. They also played really well and put everything they had into it.”
The No. 1 matchup saw Avon Old Farms senior William Curtis edge Bruins senior tri-captain Max Finkelstein, 3-2. Curtis, a native of Australia, won the match by set scores of 11-4, 11-6, 6-11, 4-11, 11-6.
“I played him at the U.S. Open at Trinity College and lost to him 3-0 in three tight games, so this was an improvement for me,” Finkelstein said. “I was more aggressive today after the first two games. He played some good squash and overall, it was a great match.”
Bruins senior tri-captain Will Holey gave junior Ian Blatchford all he could handle in a 3-2 loss at the No. 2 position. Blatchford won the marathon match that included numerous long rallies, 11-4, 5-11, 11-9, 14-16, 11-8.
At No. 3, Brunswick senior tri-captain Patrick Feeley was defeated by sophomore Khamal Cumberbatch, 3-2, in another hard-fought match (11-4, 3-11, 8-11, 11-7, 11-8).
“I started playing on this team at No. 8, then I moved up to No. 5 last year and now I am playing at No. 3, so as I keep moving up the matches are getting harder,” Feeley said. “Avon is a team we might play in the national semifinals or finals, so this helps prepare us for that. They are a really strong team.”
Sophomore Nick Spizzirri was victorious at the fourth spot for Brunswick, downing Ryan York, 11-7, 11-2, 8-11, 11-7. Brunswick recently returned from a training trip that saw them spend time in Barcelona and England, where they played against professionals and trained numerous hours a day.
“It was a good team bonding experience,” Spizzirri said. “We went to train to get ready for nationals and I thought it was a really successful trip.”
Dana Santry, a sophomore, was a 3-0 winner at No. 5, beating Avon’s Jack Lazor, 11-6, 11-5, 11-3, while Bruins sophomore Pierce Henderson took a 3-1 decision (11-8, 11-9, 6-11, 11-4) at No. 6.
Coulter Mackesy, a freshman won his match at the seventh spot for Brunswick, 11-8, 6-11, 11-5, 11-2. Indeed, as always, the Bruins have high expectations for the season. They lost to Haverford School in the national championship match last season, after winning the national team title the previous two years.
“We are definitely looking to get back and win nationals,” Finkelstein said. “Our team is as deep as it has ever been and has solid as it’s ever been.”
The Bruins returned from their training trip overseas a motivated group.
“The trip was unbelievable,” Feeley said. “We grew individually and as a team. It was one of the best experiences I have had at Brunswick.”