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Americans post strong showing at Dunlop Orange Bowl

By Andrew Labovitz

For the second straight year at the Dunlop Orange Bowl International Tennis Championships, American juniors provided a strong showing. While the U.S. contingent was unable to match its results from 2008—when Americans captured six titles out of the eight up for grabs—U.S. players still accounted for three titles and four runners-up finishes at the 2009 event, held December 7-13 at the Crandon Park Tennis Center in Key Biscayne, Fla.

The strong showing by the Americans was highlighted by two all-American singles finals in the boys’ and girls’ 16s draws. The boys’ 16s draw featured a matchup of Californians, as 15-year-old Alexios Halebian of Glendale beat 16-year-old Marcos Giron of Thousand Oaks, 4-6, 7-6, 6-4. Coming back from a set down to win was nothing new for Halebian, who showed a remarkable resiliency throughout the event as he won four three-setters en route to the title.

Giron was arguably the event’s hottest player after winning three matches to qualify for the main draw. He defeated four fellow Americans on his way to the final, including a straight-set win over John Harrison Richmond of Pawley’s Island, S.C., in the semifinals. Reaching the final capped a stellar year for both players; Giron was a boys’ 16s finalist at the Easter Bowl, while Halebian, who trains full-time at the USTA Training Center Headquarters in Boca Raton, Fla., was a boys’ 16s finalist at the Eddie Herr event.

The girls’ 16s final pitted two top Floridians against each other—Breaunna Addison of Boca Raton and Kelcy Laurente of Miramar. Addison, who also trains full-time at the USTA Training Center Headquarters, proved too strong for Laurente, winning, 6-1, 6-2. Addison’s run to her first international title was highlighted by a stirring upset over No. 3 seed Sachia Vickery of Miramar, Fla., in the third round; Vickery had beaten Addison three straight times prior to the Dunlop Orange Bowl. Addison also reached the girls’ 16s doubles final with partner Caitlyn Williams of Knoxville, Tenn. The pair ultimately lost to the Canadian team of Elisabeth Abanda and Emma Onila. 10-7. in a third-set match tie-break.

Laurente’s run to the Dunlop Orange Bowl final continued her strong play in 2009; she won an ITF event in the Bahamas in June and then swept the singles and doubles titles at the USTA Girls’ 14s National Clay Court Championships in July. Laurente advanced after losing the first set in the quarterfinals and, in the semis, she came back from a 2-6, 1-5 deficit to force a third set and ultimately beat qualifier Catherine Harrison from Germantown, Tenn., 2-6, 7-6(2), 6-3.

While five U.S. players reached the boys’ 18s quarterfinals, Americans were not as successful in the 18s draws. Only No. 5 seed Mitchell Frank of Annandale, Va., was able to advance as far as the semis, courtesy of a tough 6-4, 7-6 (3) victory over wild card
Jack Sock of Lincoln, Neb. Frank, who trains at the Junior Champions Tennis Center in
College Park, Md.,—a USTA Certified Regional Training Center—lost in the semifinals to eventual runner-up Arthur De Greef of Belgium in straight sets. Still, the loss did not diminish Frank’s run of quality tennis last fall. He won the Yucatan Cup in Mexico in November and reached the 2010 Australian Open Junior quarterfinals as the No. 4 seed.

The third U.S. title was provided by Hunter Harrington of Spartanburg, S.C., and Mitchell Krueger of Aledo, Texas, who partnered to win the boys’ 16s doubles title. The pair, seeded sixth, came from a set down in the final to defeat Thiago Monteiro of Brazil and Diego Hidalgo of Ecuador, 4-6, 7-6(2), [10-6]. In the girls’ 18s doubles, Noel Scott of Chicago reached the final with partner Polina Pekhova of Belarus before losing to US Open girls’ doubles champion Valaria Solovieva of Russia and partner Anna Orlik of Belarus.

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