When she first started coaching, Lewiston women’s tennis coach Anita Murphy didn’t know exactly how team matches were played.
Now, 43 years later, every game played at Lewiston High School will take place on Coach Anita Murphy’s tennis courts.
Thanks to a push and recommendation from Lewiston Athletic Director Jason Fuller, Lewiston City Council officially approved the renaming of the previously named Franklin Tennis Courts last week.
In her letter of recommendation to City Council, Fuller said, “I believe it is time for this community to recognize Coach Anita Murphy. I can think of no better way than to name the Franklin tennis courts in his honor. I ask that this request be considered immediately so that we can honor Anita before she retires.
Murphy said she has yet to make a decision about when she will retire.
She was driving home from an away game when Fuller texted her that the city council was acting on her recommendation, and when she pulled into her driveway she saw a follow-up text that read: “Ended”.
“My heart was pounding and I started thinking about it. What an honor and so humbled, I can’t even describe it,” Murphy said. – be not tonight.
In Fuller’s estimation, no one has spent more waking moments on those tennis courts than Murphy.
“She does,” he says. “When March comes around, she’s pretty much in tennis mode until September.”
Murphy’s connection to the courts is not lost on him.
“Since the fields were built (in the early 1990s) I have spent a good deal of my time there coaching high school teams, running summer recreational programs, youth and adult leagues” , she said. “Passing by every day, I can’t pass without looking to see if there’s still snow on the courts, if the nets are up and who’s playing on them.”
Thousands of people have played it, but no one has had more success as a coach than Murphy, who started coaching in 1979. Her love of the game and her son’s growing interest led her to becoming a coach, even though at the time she didn’t have I don’t know all the ins and outs of leading a team.
She quickly proved to be very good at training. In 1983, the Blue Devils won conference and regional titles and finished second in the state. They won their first state title under Murphy a year later, and have won 12 more since – most recently in 2019.
She was named Coach of the Year at the conference, state, and national levels and won over 500 games as a high school coach.
Equally important was his work with the Lewiston Rec Department program.
“Lewiston’s men’s teams have always done well, but that’s because they got off to a good start playing tennis in his program,” said Ron Chicoine, Murphy’s son and Lewiston boys’ coach. from 2002 to 2011. “They liked tennis, they learned to play, they learned to play correctly, fairly. And they liked tennis, it was something fun.
“And by the time they got to high school you had a number of kids who had been exposed to tennis and enjoyed it, and even though we don’t have an indoor facility in Lewiston to practice for In the winter – like most other parts of the state do – we were able to develop teams that did well and could compete with teams from more affluent communities.
Games involving family are some of Murphy’s favorite memories from her long coaching career.
She coached her daughter, Wendy Chicoine Poutre (now the girls’ coach at Portsmouth High School in New Hampshire) to a doubles championship with partner Anne-Marie Girard in 1980 – the same year Ron Chicoine was the runner-up in state in the boys’ individual tournament. .
While she coached the girls and her son coached the boys at Lewiston, Ron Chicoine’s teams won eight state titles in nine years and Murphy’s teams won six state championships . (Before Ron took over the Blue Devils, his father and Murphy’s ex-husband Rene Chicoine coached them to seven state titles in 26 seasons.)
The 2007 double titles were the most memorable for Murphy and Chicoine. On the same day, Chicoine’s son (and Murphy’s grandson) Calvin also won a state title while playing for North Yarmouth Academy. Calvin’s victory was the turning point for the Panthers.
Murphy said her team’s most recent state title was likely her personal favorite because she was able to coach her only granddaughter, Molly Chicoine (Ron’s niece) on a championship-winning team.
“It’s amazing because she’s coached so many different generations of kids, but they all reacted really the same way. They all performed very well and responded to her coaching,” Ron Chicoine said. Not necessarily X’s and O’s, but just the way to compete and have fun competing. Being successful and enjoying success. I think she’s done a great job for 40 years, and it’s amazing that someone could coach for so long because culturally, a lot of things have changed, and she grew up with that.
Fuller said he believes it was Murphy’s passion for tennis that got her into coaching.
“She loves it so much and she loves being with the kids. And those are things that she cherishes, just those interactions with the kids and the bus rides where you laugh on the bus and have fun,” Fuller said. “I think Anita has always enjoyed these experiences, and because of that, she continues to do so.”
Murphy said the people she connected with through tennis over four decades had been a driving force for her.
“It’s not what I’ve achieved, it’s all the girls that have played for me, college or JV,” she said. “I wish each of their names could be on the panel. They are the reason for Lewiston’s tennis success.
And they keep coming back to these courts, even after their high school playing days are over. Fuller said he sees former students in court all the time and it’s a testament to who Murphy is.
Ron Chicoine noted that opposing coaches and players have always been friendly with Murphy, “and it’s a tribute to her personality and a tribute to her as a person.” He also called her a role model for the community, especially women and young women growing up.
Murphy put his heart into tennis at Lewiston, and even a heart attack in 2008 couldn’t stop him from continuing to coach.
“She’s not going to let these things get in her way. She’s a very determined woman and she’s going to do what she wants to do,” Fuller said. “She has a reader of her own. And when she had the heart attack, it was right before we had a nice long streak of things and I think she knew that, and that gave her something to look forward to. She wasn’t going to let that hold her back and not live her life or do the things she wants to do.
Fuller was determined to ensure that Murphy could see the courts named after him.
“I think so often we wait to name things until people aren’t there to experience it, they’re dead. I think sometimes we have to do it when they’re here, and they can experience it, and see how much the community cares about them and what impact they’ve left behind,” Fuller said. “So I think it’s very important to do it now, I think it’s the perfect time to do it.”
Chicoine said he was happy his mother was part of the dedication, which Fuller said will likely take place in June.
“I think it’s a great honor, a great honor for her,” Chicoine said. “I mean, she had a lot of great honors. She was National High School Tennis Coach of the Year twice. I mean, who can do that from Maine? It’s incredible. So it’s just a feather in her hat, I think, to crown her career and recognize what she’s done for the community, especially the recreation department.
Since the City Council action last week, Murphy has already spent plenty of time coaching on the courts that will soon literally bear his name. The Blue Devils played two tag team matches, and the courts hosted the State Singles Tournament, in which Lewiston’s Julia Svor advanced to the quarter-finals and Abby Svor advanced to the round of 16.
Murphy has previously had the chance to coach at the grounds that now bear his name, with the Blue Devils playing two games on the ground since last Tuesday’s City Council action. Even she doesn’t know how many more matches she will play on the courts, but she knows she still has a lot of tennis in her future.
“I often see people coming up to me and asking me, ‘Are you still a coach?’ When I tell them yes, they are impressed. It’s only 43, I tell them. It feels like yesterday,” Murphy said. “If and when I retire I will be very busy after my granddaughter’s game at Husson University and also try to make a few games watching the Svor twins. Hope my daughter continues to coach and I plan to support her as well.
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