Welcome to Tennis & Travels, a new column that applauds the readers who do decide to combine business with pleasure. Because life is short, and you should travel and play tennis—maybe even do both at once.
We’re far enough into the summer that by now, if you don’t know that the US Open is held from August 31 to September 13, then you likely will never know.
But if you had simply forgotten, and you would love to head to New York for what is every year the biggest and bestest of shows on the tennis calendar, then I recommend that you consult our packages at Grand Slam Tennis Tours because one is surely right for you. And I don’t (only) say this because I write for GSTT.
This week, we finish a series we had started a few months ago: if American tennis is currently somewhat struggling, the down period could soon be over.
— Ben Rothenberg (@BenRothenberg) August 5, 2015
Meet Michael Mmoh, 17 and, at No. 3, the second best of four American ranked in the Top 10 of the juniors International Tennis Federation.
He doesn’t have the Grand Slam title that Reilly Opelka captured at Wimbledon this summer and nor does he have the distinction of being the No. 1-ranked player on the ITF like Taylor Harry Fritz. What he does have, however, is a second pro title at the USTA $15k Futures event in Illinois, which he won at the end of July.
The win propelled Mmoh into the Top 500 of the ATP World Tour rankings and, at No. 488, the youngster is the higher-ranked of the trio of young Americans on the ATP. That’s right—the teenager compares more favourably to his countrymen on the professional circuit even though he is not a pro player.
Mmoh is the son of Tony Mmoh, ex-pro and former Olympian from Nigeria. He was born in Saudi Arabia and moved to Washington, D.C., at a young age. From there, he’s become a Washington Redskins fan (don’t hold it against him) and, more importantly, been compared to someone like Gael Monfils and generally been awesome at tennis behind his great athleticism and big serve.
Mmoh’s claim to fame could be his win at this summer’s Nike Junior Championship at Roehampton, where he notably overtook Opelka in the semifinals.
It’s either that or his great versatility: Mmoh has competed in both doubles and singles at all events that he has entered this year and has acquitted himself well everywhere. In doubles, he has reached the semifinals of both the Australian Open and Wimbledon juniors, with our old friend Harry Fritz in case of the latter, and the quarterfinals of the Roland Garros juniors.
This also brings me back to my original point about the US Open being held in only two weeks: a year ago, Mmoh and Frances Tiafoe entered the US Open doubles draw as a wild card team. They made the second round—not bad for a then-16-year-old.
I say this to say that if you head to the US Open with Grand Slam Tennis Tours, you just might watch Mmoh in person; for now, this YouTube slow motion video will have to suffice.
Follow Charles Blouin-Gascon on Twitter @RealCBG