Brunswick squash team captures 11th New England championship
Updated 11:25 pm, Wednesday, February 27, 2013
Jim Stephens, the architect of the dynasty known as the Brunswick School squash team, has coached a wealth of talented squads since taking over the program in 1984. Yet few of the Bruins' highly successful teams of the past accomplished what Stephens' 2012-13 group did.
Brunswick put the finishing touch on a perfect season Sunday, winning the New England Interscholastic Squash Class A championship with a team score of 109 points at Deerfield Academy in Deerfield, Mass. The Bruins edged rival Belmont Hill School (108 points) for the title. Deerfield placed third (90), followed by Hotchkiss School (82), Milton Academy (81) and Taft (73).
The victory gave the Bruins their 11th New England Interscholastic Squash Class A title and capped a season that saw them go undefeated (14-0).
"We've only had two or three teams over the years (2001, 2002) that went undefeated," said Stephens, the Bruins' head coach. "This was a very strong team. We ended the season ranked No. 1 in the nation (by U.S. Squash). That's the first time we've been ranked No. 1."
The New England Class A Championships were hard-fought to say the least, as the Bruins held off runner-up Belmont Hill for the second straight season.
"That was the closest finish they've ever had in the championships," Stephens said. "If just one match went differently, we would have come in second place."
After graduating five players from last season's championship squad, three of whom won individual titles at the New England tournament, Stephens was surprised to see this year's team become so dominant.
"I thought because we graduated five seniors it was going to be kind of a rebuilding year," said Stephens, who guided the Bruins to their first NEISA crown in 1996. "We had a lot of players coming up from the B team, so I thought next year would be the year for us. But they all trained hard during the year and all put in a lot of practice."
Junior Hayes Murphy, a starter on the squad since he was in eighth grade, placed fifth overall in the No. 1 player division. Murphy won all but one of his matches the entire season, his lone loss coming in the New England championships against Osama Khalifa of Deerfield -- one of the world's best players from Cairo.
"Hayes lost to the best high school squash player I have seen in 40 years," Stephens said. "He played a great match against him."
Stephens has seen a wealth of talented players swing a squash racket at Brunswick and he knows Murphy is among the top performers.
"Hayes is one of the best players we've ever had," Stephens said. "He'll be the top American recruit for college."
Alex Baldock, one of the Bruins' senior captains, finished fourth in the No. 2 player bracket at the New England Championships. The Brown University-bound Baldock lost only one match on the season. After winning his first two matches 3-0, 3-1 he lost 3-1 in the semifinals to Nick Harrington from Wellesley, Mass.
Senior co-captain Benton Turner, who will take his squash skills to the University of Pennsylvania, went 3-1 in the tournament for a second-place finish in the No. 3 player draw, while freshman David Yacobucci also took second at No. 4, winning three of his four matches. He was edged by Clark Doyle from Dedham, Mass., in five games, 11-6, 7-11, 11-9, 5-11, 11-6.
"David is one of the best players in the world in his 15-year-old age group," Stephens said. "He's ranked No. 6 in the world and is the No. 1 player in the U.S. The fact that he played No. 4 for us shows how much depth we had. He could have played No. 1 for most other teams."
Sophomore Jarett Odrich continued his unbeaten streak as a squash player at Brunswick. Odrich (No. 5) downed Tucker Hamlin (Dover, Mass.) for the title in convincing fashion, 11-2, 11-5, 11-6.
"He didn't lose a match all year and has never lost a match at Brunswick," Stephens said of Odrich.
Yousef Hindy gave the Bruins their second individual championship, winning the No. 6 player draw. Hindy, who also finished the season with an unblemished record, topped Carter Sanders (Milton, Mass) in the finals, 11-1, 11-8, 11-9. Meanwhile, Chris Hart ended his senior season in style for the Bruins, winning the New England title at No. 7. Hart, who only lost once all year, beat James Kjorlien from Old Greenwich in the championship match 3-0 (11-6, 11-7, 11-3).
"Everyone stepped up this year," said Stephens, whose Bruins also won the Brandeis Cup for having the best record among New England teams. "Every single kid was outstanding and they all improved so much from last season. Our depth really set us apart."
2013 New England Interscholastic Squash Championships
1. Brunswick 109 points; 2. Belmont Hill School 108; 3. Deerfield Academy 90; 4. Hotchkiss School 82; 5. Milton Academy 81; 6. Taft School 73; 7. Noble and Greenough School 65; 8. Choate Rosemary Hall 58; 8. Westminster School 58; 10. Loomis Chaffee School 46; 11. Phillips Exeter Academy 44; 12. Rye Country Day School 44; 13. St. George's School 39; 14. Phillips Academy 37; 15. Pomfret School 33; 16. Salisbury School 26