Brunswick Squash Back on Top, Claims National Title
By Rob Adams
The top-seeded Brunswick squash team won the Division I Justi Cup at the 2018 HEAD U.S. High School Team Championships, on Sunday, at the Philadelphia Cricket Club, beating No. 2 Haverford, 5-2. It is the third straight time the two teams have met in the Justi Cup finals, as the teams split the past two titles.
Earlier in the day on Sunday, the Brunswick ‘B’ team beat Hotchkiss in the Division 1 consolation finals, 4-3, to finish ninth overall in the tournament of over 100 teams.
Head coach Jim Stephens, in his 33rd year at Brunswick, marveled at the Bruins’ success, having made 11 appearances in the finals at an event that only began in 2004. This year was the seventh-straight championship try for Brunswick.
The team has now won three of the last four titles.
“All the kids really played well under pressure,” Stephens said. “They played well under a lot of pressure. When you’ve got a lot of people, it’s a different atmosphere.”
He said the support of the parents, as well as the Greenwich Academy team, who also participated in the event, was “invaluable.”
Brunswick (12-0) opened with a loss at number 7, but quickly countered with Will Holey (#2) and Brian Leonard (#5) picking up wins to open a 2-1 lead.
Haverford (9-3) responded to win at number 3 before a crucial win by Dana Santry at #6 gave the Bruins a 3-2 lead.
Max Finkelstein, playing at number 1, took an 11-4 win in the fifth game of his match to improve the Brunswick lead to 4-2.
“It was a see-saw event in the final,” Stephens said. “Will Holey winning at number 2 was pivotal for us. Santry and Max were down, but both came back and won in the fifth game. That really sealed it.”
It was Finkelstein’s second Justi Cup clinching match, as the senior beat Haverford in 2016 as the number 4 player.
Nick Spizzirri capped the championship with a three-game sweep at number 4, giving the Bruins a 5-2 win.
Brunswick reached the championship following three straight 7-0 wins. The Bruins beat Shipley (Pa.) in the first round, McDonogh (Md.) in the quarterfinals and fourth-seeded Episcopal (Pa.) in the semifinals.
“They deserved it because they worked very hard at it,” Stephens said. “I think the schedule we had this year was unusually difficult because we played some outside teams.”
Stephens said the team gave up their winter vacation to go overseas.
“We took the kids to Spain over Christmas,” he said of at trip that took them to Barcelona, as well as Manchester and Yorkshire, England. “We played with a lot of professional players and had a great experience. They played from eight in the morning until eight at night.”
The coach had high praise for his captains: Holey, Finkelstein and Patrick Feeley.
“The leadership they provided for the team was incredible,” he said. “They are great role models. They were very determined to win. In my thinking, they earned the right to win.”
He described them as a team that has dealt with injuries and illness.
Now they’re champions again, and don’t be fooled. Coach Stephens thinks there should be another trophy in the case.
“We got snowed out one year,” he said. “I think we would have won that one also.”
Still, he’s very proud of this group.
“This is clearly one of the best teams we’ve ever had,” he said. “This is a special group.”