Graham Lehman’s lean toward tennis pays off for Oak Park-River Forest

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Graham Lehman always knew he would have to decide one day between playing baseball or tennis.

A slump heading into his freshman year at Oak Park-River Forest helped make his decision a little bit easier.

“It was really tough,” said Lehman, who graduated on Sunday. “I decided to stick with tennis kind of because I didn’t enjoy baseball as much at the moment. Baseball in Oak Park is so competitive … not that tennis isn’t, but I’m happy with my decision.”

Lehman’s devotion to tennis paid off this season when he teamed with Jeremy Dixon to place fourth at state in doubles.

The duo won five matches before losing to Hinsdale Central’s Alex Hagermoser and Peter Henegan 6-4, 6-4 in the semifinals and dropping the third-place match to Stevenson’s Colin Harvey and Andrew Komarov 6-7 (4), 6-4, 6-3.

“It meant the world to me,” Lehman said. “A state championship would’ve meant more, but I’m really happy with fourth place. We did phenomenal and battled through some tough matches. It was amazing.”

Lehman also finished 5-2 with graduated Tim McAdam last season, which ended in a seventh-round consolation match.

Lehman was reminded of his decision to play tennis when the OPRF baseball team captured the state championship in 2012. Still, he wasn’t about to second guess his career path.

“More than anything it inspired me,” Lehman said. “It made me strive for a state championship. We got pretty close. I didn’t look at it as regret.”

Lehman’s mother Marcia said her son was always into sports growing up. He started playing tennis when he took lessons at the Oak Park Tennis Club at age 7.

“He’s really committed to tennis and loves it more now than he ever has,” Marcia Lehman said. “There are not a lot of kids who have been playing as long as he has that can actually say that.

“He was very athletic at a young age. Everything came easy to him, but he always worked hard in sports and wanted to be the best. He didn’t want to let the team down. He’s always been a leader. He has a good moral compass and I’m proud of him.”

Lehman will travel to Africa with his father at the end of the month. After that, he plans to study civil engineering at Lehigh University and hopes to walk on to the tennis team. He also played soccer for the Huskies.

“I decided it would be nice to play soccer and tennis,” Lehman said. “It keeps me in shape. During soccer season I’m in the best shape of my life. I didn’t get to play a lot, but I love soccer. I just love running around and kicking the ball.”

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