In the championship-winning match, Brunswick’s Max Finkelstein upended the number-one seed from Nobles in an epic five-setter, clinching the 15th New England crown for the Bruins. Brunswick out-pointed runner-up Avon Old Farms, 108-105, winning its sixth-straight New England title on the McLane Squash Courts at St. Paul’s School in New Hampshire on Sunday.
Late in the third day of competition, the battle for first place emerged as a two-school race between Avon Old Farms and Brunswick, while Nobles had a chance to play the spoilers against the Bruins. If Finkelstein lost the match at #2 to Nobles, Avon Old Farms and Brunswick would have shared the title with matching 105 team points. It would have been the first-ever tie at the New England Championships, dating back to the inaugural event in 1953, also held at St. Paul’s.
Unlike the team-based head-to-head contests during the season, the individual-based design rewards points for each player’s finishing position in the 16-person draw across seven ladders of competition.
Scoring for the tournament begins with 18 points for the individual winner of one of the seven 16-person ladders. The second-place performer earns 15 team points, as one point is deducted for the following 14 participants in descending order, ending with the 16th place player earning one team point.
As the final day played out, Brunswick’s Brian Leonard was the first to finish at #7. Leonard, the top seed at #7, dropped just a single set over four matches en route to a first-place finish for the Bruins. The freshman won the title in straight sets against Avon Old Farms’ Jack Lazor (3, 6, 4). Leonard’s ladder win at #7 gave the Bruins 18 team points, while the Winged Beavers picked up 15 for second place.
Take Huffman followed by picked up 14 team points for Brunswick with a third-place finish at #4. Huffman topped Alexander Kurtin from Nobles in the third-place match, winning in straight sets (6, 9, 9). The Winged Beavers won title at #4, taking 18 team points.
Nick Spizzirri won the title at #5 for Brunswick, collecting 18 more team points. Spizzirri, the second seed, won his first three matches in straight sets, before using four sets to topple Henry Smith, the number-one seed from Avon Old Farms (7, 6, , 9).
Brunswick’s Dana Santry, the top seed at #6 took second place, dropping a five-set battle to Avon Old Farms’ Khamal Cumberbatch in the final (8, , 6, , 4). Santry collected 15 points for the Bruins, while Cumberbatch’s win gave AOH 18 more team points.
Tyler Carney was next to finish for the Bruins. Playing at #1, Carney finished the tournament in fourth place, earning 13 points for the Bruins. Carney dropped a four-set decision to Patrick McElroy from Nobles in the third-place match. Keeping an eye on the leaderboard, Avon Old Farms finished in fifth place at #1, collecting 12 team points.
Will Holey, playing at #3 finished in fifth place, giving the Bruins 12 more points.
At this point of the competition, Avon Old Farms finished its final match at #1, taking 12 points with another fifth-place finish, wrapping up the competition with 105 total points.
Before the final match, the Bruins were assured at least 15 points, for second place, in Finkelstein’s match. Fifteen points would have tied the Bruins with Avon Old Farms (105-105), but a win by Finkelstein ensured Brunswick the outright title (108-105).
The championship-deciding match came down to the finals at #2, as Finkelstein, nursing stress fractures in his legs during the latter half of the season, needed to beat number-one seed Reg Anderson form Nobles. Recent history favored the top-seed, as Finkelstein played Anderson in the quarterfinal round at the High School Nationals earlier this month, where Anderson bested Finkelstein in straight sets.
Three sets into the New England title match, Finkelstein was down two sets to one to Anderson. The talented Nobles player won the first set 13-11, before the pair battled to a 15-13 decision in the second set, won by Finkelstein. Anderson took the third set, 11-7, taking a 2-1 lead in the best-of-five set title match.
Finkelstein, no stranger to pressure-packed matches, won the deciding match at the national championship last year. Finkelstein fought back from a 2-0 deficit to eventually win in five sets, securing the national title for the Bruins a year ago.
Drawing from that come-from-behind championship experience, Finkelstein took the final two sets (11-9, 11-5) to secure the championship for the Bruins.
The victory caps another excellent season for coach Jim Stephens and the Bruins. Brunswick finished second in the nation this year. The Bruins were 12-1 on the season, with the lone setback coming in the finals of the national championship.