Anita Murphy has decided it is time to pass the racket to someone else to lead the Lewiston High School girls tennis team.

Murphy resigned as coach after 43 years Thursday night, having won 518 matches and 13 state championships. Murphy has been inducted into the Auburn-Lewiston Sports Hall of Fame (2013), the MPA Hall of Excellence (2015) and the Maine Sports Hall of Fame (2018).

“I have been thinking about it, let’s put it that way,” Murphy said. “I have been thinking, I am not getting any younger; although I am in good health and feel great, I think it’s time for me to step back.”

Lewiston girls tennis coach Anita Murphy and Chloe Morin cheer on their team on during the 2017 regional final against Brunswick. Sun Journal file photo

Murphy said sending an email to Lewiston athletic director Jason Fuller, letting him know she was stepping down, was difficult.

“I was reading what I was sending him to my husband and I said, ‘I can’t go on, I have to stop.’ As I was stopping, he said, ‘Go ahead and cry,’ and I did,” Murphy said. “Then I would start (writing) again, and it was tough; 43 years is a long time.”

After she hit the send button, Fuller received the email and gave Murphy call, and they talked some more.

Fuller said he was somewhat surprised by the news.

Lewiston girls tennis coach Anita Murphy holds the 2019 Class A championship trophy with her granddaughter Molly Chicoine. Submitted photo

“I was aware it was in the back of her mind, but she participated this fall for our middle school kids and younger kids to get back to playing tennis,” Fuller said. “She was ready to do another year. It’s going to be surprising not having her around, I can tell you that.”

Murphy said she will continue to support the team and attend matches.

Her family didn’t think she would coach for four-plus decades, according to Murphy’s granddaughter, Molly Chicoine, who Murphy coached from 2017-19. Chicoine is a sophomore on Husson University women’s tennis team.

“My whole family has been expecting it for the last 15 years,” Chicoine said with a chuckle. “When I was born almost 20 years ago, they thought she was going to retire. … We never know with Memere. She lasted another 18 (years) after I was born. I think she made the right decision; we weren’t shocked, I will put it to you that way.”

Murphy sent a text message to a group chat of current and former players of her decision, and the responses started rolling in.

“I know the girls in my class (2020) and the class (of 2021), they were all like, ‘We are proud of you, we are proud of you, thank you for everything that you have done,'” Chicoine said. “She has done so much for the community, the tennis community in the state of Maine. I thought the (responses were) really nice.”

Fuller said that what stands out most about Murphy are her passion, dedication and commitment to the entire tennis program.

“Anita does it because she loves being around kids and she loves her athletes,” Fuller said. “She has built a family within the program; there are athletes 20 years removed that are coming back. I think that’s the No. 1 takeaway on how much she cares about the kids and how much she wants them to be successful. That’s all we want in athletics, and she embodies that. ”

Fuller is glad the courts at Lewiston High School were renamed to the Coach Anita Murphy Tennis Courts last May.

“It was one of those things I needed to find the right time to do it,” Fuller said. “I wanted to do it when her career was (towards) the end. We talked enough that it was coming at some point. I wanted to make we honor someone that (spent) 43 years as a coach. It’s staggering; she deserved it.”

Fuller stated Lewiston wouldn’t have its 14 boys and 13 girls state championships without Murphy.

Part of the reason for the school’s tennis success is the 28 years Murphy worked with the Lewiston Recreation Department running its summer tennis program.

The girls program’s 13 titles included a dominant stretch from 2006-11 when the Blue Devils won six straight state championships.

“It’s something you don’t think about until someone brings it up and says something to you: ‘You have won six years in a row,'” Murphy said.

The 2011 championship stands out because the boys team, coached by her son Ron Chicoine, also won the state title. Also that day, Ron’s son, Calvin, won the Class C state championship with North Yarmouth Academy.

Lewiston High School tennis coach Anita Murphy talks with senior Abby Svor in May 2021 after Svor lost her state singles tournament match to Anna Barnes of Brunswick. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

Murphy credits Ron with helping out the girls and giving them tips here and there throughout her coaching career.

A special memory for Murphy was winning her final state championship with Molly in 2019, and her daughter, Wendy Poutre, coaching Portsmouth High School to a New Hampshire state title that same year.

Other memories that stand out to Murphy are taking the Blue Devils to Virginia and Florida to play out-of-state teams. Also, when Sadie Roy reached the state singles semifinal round in 1999 and Chantalle Lavertu reached the semifinal round four straight years from 2006-09.

“It was memorable,” Murphy said of her career. “There’s so much to remember. … Forty-three years is a long time to remember everything. It’s the girls, it’s all about the girls, they are the ones who made it (memorable).”

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