Sophomore Billy Weldon and senior James Melvin of the Upper Arlington High School boys tennis team finished third in the Division I district tournament last Friday and Saturday at Hilliard Davidson to advance to state Friday and Saturday at Ohio State.

Sophomore Billy Weldon and senior James Melvin of the Upper Arlington High School boys tennis team finished third in the Division I district tournament last Friday and Saturday at Hilliard Davidson to advance to state Friday and Saturday at Ohio State.

They lost to defending state champions Chris Diaz and Philip Diaz of Watterson 6-1, 1-6, 6-3 in a semifinal and beat Olentangy Liberty's Mitchell Lothes and Alex Solove 5-7, 6-0, 6-1 consolation final last Saturday, extending UA's streak of having at least one state representative to 51 years.

"It feels awesome (to keep that streak going)," Melvin said. "Normally it's easier to make the state in doubles, but this year there are a lot of good doubles teams out there. Coming through this district is definitely going to help us."

"One of the things I learned last year is there are good players out there, even if you don't know their names," said Weldon, who lost to Hudson's Alex Hughes and Matt McErlean 6-3, 6-7 (3-7), 6-3 in the first round of the state tournament last year with senior Will Thieman. "You never know what to expect so you have to come out for every match ready to go."

Thieman defeated Worthington Kilbourne's Chris Yoon 7-6, 6-4 in the first round in singles last Friday but lost to Olentangy Liberty's Arren Carter 6-0, 6-0 in a quarterfinal. In doubles, Stephen Edwards and Aldo Corona lost to St. Charles' Jack Toscano and Grant Dolven 6-3, 6-2 in the first round.

"Usually tradition works for us, but if you don't come out so strong or get down early, then that tradition can work against you," coach Amos Allison said.

The Bears don't have to look far to be reminded of what is expected of them. The north fence of UA's courts is lined with the names of the individuals and the teams who have won state championships for the Bears, but Allison tries to keep his players from looking at them.

If they studied the wall, they'd notice the list of state champions, both individually and as a team, stops in 1999 for the boys team.

Since 2000, the Central District has produced one state champion, two third-place finishers and one fourth-place finisher in doubles.

"We may peek at them a little bit because as a reminder of what they are playing for and they are a part of. With this being 2009, this is our last chance to put a stamp on this decade," said Allison, who was a letterwinner on the Bears' state championship teams from 1994-97. "To put another plaque up there is the ultimate goal."

OTCA -- UA faced New Albany in an OTCA Division I district final last Wednesday trying to extend another streak. The Bears advanced to state each of the last seven years.

New Albany was first in the final state poll, ahead of No. 2 Cincinnati St. Xavier and No. 3 UA. The Bears were to play New Albany on April 13, but the match was canceled because of bad weather.

The Bears beat Liberty, which was fifth in the final state poll, 3-1 in a district semifinal May 19. Melvin defeated Alex Hathaway 6-2, 6-4 at second singles, Weldon and Eric Vannatta defeated Tyler Gibbons and John McMahon 6-2, 6-2 at first doubles and Corona and Edwards beat Lothes and Scott Miller 7-6, 6-2 at second doubles.


At a glance

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

May 19 -- Defeated Olentangy Liberty 3-1 in OTCA Division I district semifinal

Last Friday-Saturday - Competed in Division I district tournament at Hilliard Davidson. Billy Weldon and James Melvin were third in doubles

Last Wednesday -- Played New Albany in OTCA district final. The winner advanced to the state tournament Sunday at Ohio State.

Friday-Saturday -- At state at Ohio State

Of note: The Bears were 14-1 before last Wednesday.