By Bob York
It took some lumps then kicked some rumps.
The Big Green embarked on a three-month tour of duty through that minefield known as the Class A bracket of the New England Interscholastic Boys Squash Association this winter. It was a time frame that coach Mike Silipo would later reflect on and eloquently dissect in a single word: “tough.”
There was, however a silver lining that accompanied this regular-season schedule that saw Deerfield go wall-to-wall against some of the premier prep school teams from throughout the Northeast. That silver lining being that the Big Green survived. It survived with a very respectable overall record of 8-10 and lived to fight again – in the Class B Tournament.
And from the results of this year’s tourney, there should be a pile of requests by Class B teams to make their way onto Class A team schedules next winter. Everybody’s going to want to follow in the Big Green’s footsteps, because they all followed them in the final Class B tournament standings.
Boys squash turned out to be one of four Big Green teams to capture New England crowns this winter. Deerfield’s girls squash team won the Class A title, while both the boys and girls ski teams finished atop their respective Class A standings as well.
“The kids really did a great job this winter … they hung in there through some tough times during the regular season,” said Silipo, which included losing co-captain Will Swindell ’11, who was Deerfield’s No. 1 player, for the entire season with a shoulder injury. And with Swindell out of the lineup, Silipo called upon his other co-captain, Pat Hilbert ’11 to step up from his No. 2 slot into the leadoff role.
“The kids kept motivated and working hard though … they kept improving throughout the season and it all ended up paying off,” added Silipo. “And I couldn’t be happier for them or prouder of them.”
Using the Class A schedule as a tune-up for its talents, the Big Green caused some serious damage at the B tourney, as it finished atop the 14-team field with 90 points. St. Luke’s was second with 84 points, while Brooks School, the host school for the tourney, placed third with 80 points.
Deerfield made its title run by winning four of the seven brackets, while two other players finished third. The Big Green’s gold medal winners were Tripp Kaelin ’14 in the No. 2 Bracket, Steve Alexandre ’11 in the No. 4 Bracket, Emmett Knowlton ’11 in the No. 6 Bracket and Will Henry ’11 in the No. 7 Bracket. Collecting bronze medals for Deerfield were Ted Henderson ’13 and Cam Dewey ’14, who medaled at No. 3 and No. 5 respectively.
Of the 10 setbacks the Big Green suffered through the regular season, all came against Class A teams and seven came via clubs that finished in the top 10 of the final Class A tourney. Those were No. 1 Taft, No. 2 Westminster, No. 5 Groton, No. 6 Exeter, No. 8 Salisbury, No. 9 Hotchkiss and No. 10 Milton. Plus, there was archrival Choate. It outlasted the Big Green, 4-3, in the season finale, and then went on to finish 12th in the final Class A tourney standings.
Alexandre was the recipient of the Deerfield Squash Trophy, while Henderson was elected captain of next winter’s squad.