The New Albany High School boys tennis team overcame a major hurdle toward representing the Central District in the Ohio Tennis Coaches Association state team tournament when it defeated Upper Arlington 3-2 in the second round on April 20.

The New Albany High School boys tennis team overcame a major hurdle toward representing the Central District in the Ohio Tennis Coaches Association state team tournament when it defeated Upper Arlington 3-2 in the second round on April 20.

"This is the biggest win I've had as a coach, and we're talking in 17 years," coach Andrew Sinclair said. "It's huge. It's been our No. 1 goal for a long time."

New Albany plays at Dublin Jerome on Thursday, April 28, in an OTCA quarterfinal. The winner advances to play Hilliard Davidson or Gahanna in a semifinal. That match must be played by May 7.

UA had represented the district in the OTCA state tournament the past eight seasons. The Golden Bears won the Division I OTCA state title last year.

In recent years, the Eagles have tabbed the match with UA as the season's biggest. Despite having some of the area's top players on its singles courts, New Albany couldn't overcome UA's depth.

This year, the tables were turned.

"We've always been pretty good and some of the seniors gave a speech (before the match) that this is our year to make it to state," senior Sam Romanoff said. "Now we feel like nothing can get in our way."

The decisive match came at third singles, where Oliver Sybert defeated UA's Brandon Griffin 7-6, 7-6.

Sybert won the first set and led 5-2 in the second before the other matches ended. As attention turned to the final match, Griffin made a comeback before Sybert eventually prevailed.

"There was a big crowd there," Sinclair said. "Griffin came back to force a tiebreaker and it was a great match to watch. Neither player made a mistake."

In the past, the Eagles had players who were considered among the area's best, including 2009 state singles champion Peter Kobelt, who now plays at Ohio State, and Riyad Bennoui, who now plays at Wright State.

UA had the powerful first and second singles players this year in Billy Weldon and Stu Little. That pair beat Bennoui and John Hendrix 6-4, 6-1 last year for the Division I state title in doubles.

In the OTCA match, Weldon defeated Sean Yun 6-1, 6-1 at first singles and Little beat Romanoff 6-1, 6-1 at second singles.

New Albany won the doubles matches. Hendrix and Steven Miller Jr. defeated Eric Vannatta and Nate Wallace 7-6, 6-4 at first doubles and Jordan Rabe and Ameen Farwana beat Peter Pema and Jeffrey Melvin 6-4, 6-4 at second doubles.

"Two years ago we had Peter Kobelt in the top spot and had won a lot of matches in a row and I think that put a lot of pressure on us (against UA)," Sinclair said. "This time they had the state champions and maybe we didn't have as much pressure on us to win."