The USM men’s tennis team opened their home schedule by defeating Thomas College 9-0 in a non-conference match-up at the Costello Sports Complex on Tuesday afternoon.
Senior Josh Warren (Hermon) and junior Mike Sarrazin (Lewiston) led the way for the Huskies as Warren won number one singles and combined with Sarrazin to take number one doubles.
In the top singles match, Warren’s versatile and athletic style, and a powerful, high-velocity serve bested Thomas’s top player, junior Jeremy Cliff 6-0, 6-3. Cliff kept the match very competitive as he boasts a similar style, but in the end Warren was too much for him.
In number one doubles, Warren and Sarrazin teamed up to down Cliff and junior Andrew Folan 8-1. The combination of Warren’s leadership and court presence, and Sarrazin’s smooth play was hard to stop, and the duo won the match handily.
“We were feeling pretty good today. It was our first home match so it was good to get the nerves out of the way,” Sarrazin said. “We’ve beat these guys in the past and we never want to take them lightly. We’ll take any challenge we can get.”
USM received other solid performances from some of the younger players on this year’s squad. Sophomore Shane Belanger (Caribou), classmate Jon Sproul (Bristol), and junior Zach Caron (North Conway, N.H.) all earned 6-0, 6-0 straight set victories. Belanger defeated Thomas rookie Andrew Watt in the third singles match, Sproul beat Thomas senior Mike Kunkel in five singles, and Caron upended Terrier sophomore Keith Pike in six singles. Other USM singles victories came from Sarrazin who defeated Folan due to forfeit, and graduate student Matt McGowan (Waterville) who defeated Thomas junior Michael Morris 6-1, 6-1.
The Huskies also cleaned up in their other two doubles matches as Caron and Belanger took down Watt and Morris 8-0 in second doubles, and McGowan and Sproul defeated Kunkel and Pike by a tally of 8-2.
The USM men’s tennis team, who is under the wing of first year coach and Lewiston High School coach Ron Chicoine, look to turn the program in a new direction and become an annual competitor in the Little East Conference.
“We have four freshmen who are playing in our top six right now, so we’re a very young team. Our veterans combined with our young guys I think is a good combination to get us where we need to be and that is playing in the LEC Playoffs,” Chicoine said.
Chicoine, who has won seven state championships at Lewiston High School, looks to bring that winning mentality to a USM team that is in a bit of a rebuilding year due to their youth.
“I’m used to coaching guys that are used to winning, and I’m glad to have all the players we have this year because they all bring that mentality to the court,” Chicoine said. “It’s a transition year for us, partly because it’s my first year as coach. It’s a different style of coaching then they’re used to. We’re hoping to bring more Maine kids into the program to develop and make this a place where kids in the state want to play college tennis.”
“Coach Chicoine is an excellent coach, and we’ve gotten twice as good since the beginning of the season,” said Sarrazin, who was coached by Chicoine in high school. “We’re definitely improving every day.”
The USM men’s tennis team will be back in action on Tuesday as they travel to Salem State to take on the Vikings in a LEC Conference match-up.