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Local leads title win

GLENDALE — Making good on its top overall seeding and undefeated passage to the championship round, the United States Tennis Assn. World Junior Tennis boys’ team became the first group of American boys to hoist the World Junior Tennis Competition championship trophy since 2003 with a 3-0 sweep of second-seeded France on Saturday in Prostejov, Czech Republic.

Fourteen-year-old Alexios Halebian of Glendale was the team’s No. 2 singles player throughout the championship run and came through with straight-set victories in his semifinal match on Thursday and finals draw on Saturday.

“I was playing at my level,” Halebian said of his performance over the last two days of the tournament. “I was at the top of my game.”

Halebian defeated Diavijay Singh, 6-2, 6-3, to help his team eliminate India, 3-0, on Thursday. He then bested Mathias Bourgue, 6-3, 6-2 on Saturday to get the United States on its way to a 3-0 sweep of France for the championship.

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U.S. No. 1 singles player Christian Harrison swept Lucas Pouille, 6-2, 6-4, and Harrison and Tyler Gardiner then teamed up to defeat Bourgue and Laurent Lokoli, 6-2, 6-3, on Saturday

“The team played extremely solid the last couple of days and Alex did a great job of being the first of our team out there — he kind of sets the tone,” USTA Coach Kent Kinnear said. “He just played really, really well both of those [final] matches, so I’m very proud of Alex and the way he competed.”

During the weeklong 16-country competition, which featured three days of round robin play and a three-day knockout round of championship play, Halebian racked up four wins to just one loss.

“It was a good trip, except for one match where I did pretty bad,” Halebian said of his 7-5, 7-6 (7-2) loss to Wayne Montgomery of South Africa on Tuesday.

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The slow red clay surface used in the tournament was a bit of a change for Halebian, but one he said he adjusted to with time.

“The red clay is a little bit different,” he said. “You’ve got more time to do what you want.”

Halebian, currently ranked seventh in the USTA Boys’ 14s, will begin training full time at the USTA training facility in Boca Raton, Fla. in September.

He said he is looking forward to representing the U.S. in future team competitions.

“It feels good to support my teammates, most of all when I’m not playing and they are playing, to just support them as much as I can,” Halebian said. “It feels a little different to be part of a team.”


?GABRIEL RIZK covers sports. He can be reached at (818) 637-3226 or at gabriel.rizk@latimes.com.


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