Royal coronation: Lake Ridge Royals stand as Lorain County's best

MORNING JOURNAL/SAM GREENE The Lake Ridge boys tennis team poses at the Lake Ridge tennis courts in North Ridgeville on Thursday. The Royals won the LCAAA Tournament last month in Avon Lake.

NORTH RIDGEVILLE — Coach Rich Robbins stood on the sideline for three years as Lake Ridge fell short in the LCAAA Tournament, including a second place finish last season.

Now in his fourth year at the helm, Robbins watched his 9-1 Royals dethrone the four-time defending champion Avon Lake Shoremen last month, marking the program’s biggest accomplishment during his tenure.

“The seniors have been trying for four years,” Robbins said. “They’ve come close a couple of times so to finally win sure means a lot because it’s not easy. The team hung together, played tough and persevered.”

Among those providing senior leadership is third singles Qasim Syed, whose individual title was pivotal in bringing Lake Ridge its first LCAAA team championship in nearly a decade.

With Royals’ first doubles duo Henry Lin and Casey Alhadad having grabbed a runner-up finish earlier in the afternoon and second singles Roger Peckham capturing an individual crown minutes before, the LCAAA team crown came down to the last match of the day — the third singles championship.

Syed bested Avon’s Oliver Burger 7-5, 6-1 to help Lake Ridge edge the Eagles 38-36 for the team title.

It is the second consecutive season the Royals have claimed the third singles LCAAA crown, with exchange student Jonas Jung having won at the title last year.

According to Robbins, with Jung returning to Germany, third singles was a question mark coming into the 2013 campaign.

Answering with vigor, Syed has strung together a perfect 10-0 record, making him the only undefeated player on Lake Ridge’s roster.

“I was kind of wondering if that was going to be a weak link but (Qasim) seems to be carrying the day,” Robbins said. “He’s picking up where Jonas left off last year.”

Peckham has put together a similarly notable season, touting a 9-1 posting. Rounding out arguably the best singles trio in Northeast Ohio, at first singles Caleb Mayer has represented the Royals against some of the area’s top talent, putting together a 7-3 record.

Factor in the solid play of Lin and Casey at first doubles and Tyler Reese and Jacob Dempsey at second, and Lake Ridge’s team effort resulted in an undefeated posting prior to a close 3-2 loss to Lakewood in late April. Mayer said the Royals’ success stems in part from competing with one another.

“It’s good to have strong people on your team to hit with,” Mayer explained. “I think we make each other a lot better.”

The group’s ability to make one another better is made evident not only by their accomplishments this year, but also by Mayer making trips to districts the past two seasons, with Peckham joining him their last go-round. Robbins anticipates comparable, if not greater success for his team in the 2013 postseason.

“(Caleb and Roger) got out of sectionals last year and I don’t see why they couldn’t do it again this year,” he said. “I think Lake Ridge has a good chance of getting two (players to districts) and maybe even three with Qasim Syed.”



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Last Updated: 5/2/2013 11:13:05 PM EST

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