LEWISTON — It’s always been Ron Chicoine’s dream to coach tennis at the collegiate level.

He’s got that shot this fall. The best part? He doesn’t have to give up his gig at Lewiston High School, where he’s 107-1 in seven seasons.

The University of Southern Maine announced this week that Chicoine is the Huskies’ new varsity tennis coach.

“USM is the only public university or college in Maine with a varsity tennis program, and it’s an honor to have this opportunity,” Chicoine said. “That in itself is a tremendous opportunity.”

“Ron brings a great track record of success,” USM athletic director Al Bean said in a news release this week. “We are excited to see where he can bring our programs in the upcoming seasons.”

Officials at both USM and Lewiston High School have spoken with Chicoine extensively regarding any possible scheduling conflicts, and there are very few.

“The fall season, there is no high school tennis in the fall,” Chicoine said. “And in the spring, most of the USM schedule is done by the time we get going at Lewiston.”

Lewiston AD Jason Fuller confirmed the arrangement Thursday.

“It’s a great opportunity for Ron,” Fuller said. “We’ve been able to work with him, and we should be able to get a schedule done that minimizes the conflicts if any should happen.”

The Little East Championship, Chicoine said, may conflict with early-season matches. To handle some of the conflicts at both ends, Chicoine has enlisted the help of a few volunteer coaches, two at USM and one at Lewiston.

With the Huskies, Chicoine’s mother, Anita Murphy and his doubles partner (with whom he’s still ranked No. 1 in Maine) Steve Eddy will help out when he needs time away for work.
In Lewiston, former standout No. 1 player Chris Roy, who has also coached at St. Dom’s in the past, will help out with the Blue Devils’ boys’ team.

“There really isn’t a lot of overlap, but I know with the help in place it’s going to work out,” Chicoine said.

Of course, then there’s his ‘real’ job as an Anesthesiologist at St. Mary’s Regional Medical Center in Lewiston, meaning his schedule, particularly in the spring, is going to be non-stop.

“I’ll work at the hospital until about three, have Lewiston practice at 3:30 and head down to USM for 6 p.m.,” Chicoine said. “It’s going to be a lot, but I’m sure I can handle it.”

And while Chicoine has no expectation that his teams at USM will mimic his instant and continued success at Lewiston over the last seven seasons, he’s not planning on coaching a slouch of a team, either.

“I really think we have a chance to do something at USM,” Chicoine said. “It’s a conference where, if we win, we go to NCAAs, and that’s our first goal. I don’t expect right away to have the same success as I’ve had at Lewiston, but eventually, yes, of course that’s my expectation.”

The women’s team may take a bit longer, Chicoine admitted. Last year, the women won their first match since 2005. But, he said, they may not be that far away.

“I’ve already spoken with a few people who weren’t on the team last year, who I know can play and will help out immediately,” Chicoine said. “I think we have a tremendous opportunity here to be an option for a lot of good Maine tennis players who don’t want to pay a lot of money to get a good education and play tennis at the same time.”

Chicoine’s season at USM begins on Sept. 3, when the women visit Thomas College in Waterville.

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