Although they rarely spoke about it, the Division I state doubles tournament was always in the back of the minds of Upper Arlington High School junior Billy Weldon and freshman Stu Little.

Although they rarely spoke about it, the Division I state doubles tournament was always in the back of the minds of Upper Arlington High School junior Billy Weldon and freshman Stu Little.

Little and Weldon won the district tournament last Saturday at the Elysium Tennis Club after defeating New Albany's Riyad Bennoui and John Hendrix 6-1, 6-2 in the final.

"Usually guys on our team don't express (the goal of reaching the state tournament) very often but we want to play up to our abilities," boys tennis coach Amos Allison said. "I feel like we played up to our abilities."

Weldon and Little will continue the team's 52-year string of reaching the state tournament when they play Geneva's junior Jake McMahan and senior Kyle O'Dell in the first round Friday at Ohio State's Stickney Center.

"I love being a part of that tradition," Little said. "It's great making it to the state tournament my freshman year, especially with Billy. He's a great doubles player. I enjoy hanging around with him."

It will be Weldon's third state tournament appearance with his third doubles partner. Weldon and graduate Will Thieman lost in the first round of the 2008 tournament. Weldon and James Melvin placed fourth last year, losing to Toledo St. John's Jesuit's Jacob Kuhn and Josef Pontasch 6-3, 6-4 in the third-place match.

Weldon and Little are UA's first district doubles champions since Sumanth Chittajallu and Eamonn Bahnson won in 2004. They decided to pair up after doing well in a series of doubles tournaments last summer.

"If you lose sight of your goal, you won't get the result you're looking for," Weldon said.

"One slip up can ruin everything."

UA advanced six of seven district qualifiers to quarterfinals.

In doubles, senior Eric Vannatta and freshman Nathan Wallace lost to Hilliard Davidson's Trent Searfoss and Ben McClarren 6-2, 6-4 in a quarterfinal.

In singles, senior Beni Benalcazar lost to Thomas Worthington's Casey Cempre 5-7, 6-0, 6-2 and freshman Brandon Griffin lost to Coffman's Hiromi Nakayama 6-2, 6-1.

Senior Stefan Treglia lost to Gahanna's Jesse Shivener 7-5, 6-4 in the first round.

Allison said Griffin had one of the best singles matches of the tournament, defeating New Albany's Sam Romanoff 6-4, 4-6, 7-5 in a 2 hour, 50 minute battle in the first round.

"I was working so hard out there," said Griffin, who had six aces. "Time was just flying out there."

•OTCA TOURNAMENT - The Bears, ranked second in the final Division I state poll, faced No. 4-ranked New Albany last Tuesday in a Central-Southeast District final with the winner advancing to the state tournament Sunday at Ohio State.

UA defeated seventh-ranked Olentangy Liberty 3-1 on May 20 to advance to a district final.

At a glance

Below are the recent results and coming schedules for the Upper Arlington boys tennis team:

May 20 - Defeated Olentangy Liberty 3-1 in an OTCA Division I Central-Southeastern district semifinal. Last Friday and last Saturday - At Division I Central District tournament (Elysium Tennis Club). Billy Weldon and Stu Little (first) advanced to state in doubles. Last Tuesday - Played New Albany in an OTCA district final. Winner advances to state semifinals Sunday at Ohio State's Stickney Center. Friday-Saturday - At Division I state tournament at Ohio State's Stickney Center

Of note: The Bears were 21-0 overall before last Tuesday and finished 7-0 (first) in OCC-Central.