Tennis Prose



Close Encounter with Michael Mmoh on Longboat Key

I just finished playing at Bayfront Park at 3 on Longboat Key and was stretching around my scooter when I spotted a blacked out BMW door open and a girl got out and walked over to ask the four college age kids on the courts when they would be done.

They kindly replied that they could all join together on one court to offer the college age girl the second court. She happily accepted the favorable terms and returned to the BMW with Georgia license plates. The driver’s side door opened and a recognizable figure emerged. It was Michael Mmoh, the 22 year old American now ranked 182 in the world.

Mmoh and the blonde slow walked over to their court, as if to savor the beautiful setting. Many renowned players have trained here, including Michelle Larcher De Brito, Mary Pierce, Maria Sharapova, Pierre Duclos, Dan Markowitz, to name a few. Arriving at their bench, both began doing some warm-ups and stretches and then they began to hit.

Within minutes the quality of hitting arrested the attention of park visitors, cyclists, fishermen, dog walkers, canoers, etc. A woman on the deck of the clubhouse stood staring at the two professional looking players, swatting balls at full speed. Pro and college players are perfect athletes, perfect form, perfect leverage, perfect timing, perfect movements. Everything is perfect in how they operate on the court.

There was no talking or joking, just both athletes fully concentrating on hammering the ball back to each other, to procreate their tennis perfection.

Another woman by the canoes was also captivated by the action and took a step over to look at them, in awe. But the college kids on the adjacent court never bothered to look at Mmoh and his mystery hitting partner, not even once! They stood mostly around their bench by the net post just chattering away. These shirtless tennis hackers had other priorities, and zero interest in the professional action a few steps away.

Mmoh has had a decent career so far. He was ranked 98 in the world in October 2018. He has won eight ATP matches against 17 losses for $793,093 in prize money. His last matches were at Indian Wells Challenger, a singles loss to Frances Tiafoe 64 63 and a doubles loss with Jack Sock to Kudla-Kwiatkowski 62 63. Before IW, Mmoh lost in the round of 16 in both Drummondville and Columbus, both three setters to Arthur Rinderknech and Mikael Torpegaard. He also lost a three setter in Houston to the eventual champ Jurij Rodionov.

Mmoh is currently coached by Patrick Frandji.

I wandered over behind Mmoh to take some photos, he seemed to recognize me and gave a thumbs up, adding a Hello Michael.

The two continued hitting. Mmoh using a Wilson and wearing all adidas, blue shorts, blue shirt, which he removed as it was over 80 degrees.

Mmoh, former ITF no. 2 junior, has already won two Challengers and four Futures. He’s been on the ATP scene for a while now. In 2016 he qualified for Memphis main draw, beating Fratangelo and Novikov before losing to Taylor Fritz.

Mmoh’s first major main draw was at Australian Open last year (loss to Albot) and his first major main draw win came this year in Melbourne against Pablo Andujar.

Among Mmoh’s ATP Tour scalps are some fairly prominent names – Jordan Thompson, Casper Ruud, Federico Delbonis, John Millman, Marcel Granollers, Mischa Zverev and Peter Polansky.

But the big run hasn’t come ime yetfor the young American who once garnered a New York Times headine back in 2016 that declared, “Michael Mmoh is a rising hope.” So far the Saudi Arabian born athlete’s best result was a quarterfinal in Brisbane two years ago.

It’s only a matter of time though until Mmoh makes his breakthrough to follow the likes of Fritz, Tiafoe, Reilly Opelka, Alex deMinaur, Stefanos Tsitsipas.

Not even the threat of corona virus could keep Mmoh off the courts yesterday.

Today the courts were locked up because, according to police, one resident player keeps using the Bayfront courts despite allegedly having corona symptons. Or so the policeman told me today.

So no Biofile with Mmoh. This article will have to do.

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  • Sam · March 24, 2020 at 10:26 pm

    So many people seem to be dissing Mmoh for going out and playing, which is ridiculous. It’s *confined* spaces that facilitate the spread of the virus, not open areas.

    According to Dr. Paul Auwaerter, the Clinical Director for the Division of Infectious Diseases at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine:

    “If you have a COVID-19 patient in your household, your risk of developing the infection is about 10%….If you were casually exposed to the virus in the workplace (e.g., you were not locked up in conference room for six hours with someone who was infected [like a hospital]), your chance of infection is about 0.5%.”

    That’s good news. Also, plain soap and water will kill the virus, as long as you wash thoroughly (about 20 seconds).

    So, while we all need to be cautious and prudent, mass hysteria helps no one.

    P.S. Who was the mystery woman? 🙂

  • Scoop Malinowski · March 24, 2020 at 10:53 pm

    I didn’t bother to ask Michael who she was, not to interrupt. Had to be a college player is my guess, did not recognize her as a pro. Agree it is weird how some people are criticizing Mmoh for playing tennis in a public place. It’s his risk, he’s determined to work hard and improve. The courts are there to be used. Exercise and fresh air are important. Some people are overly afraid of this hysteria. I thought we were always told to have no fear and go on living our lives, don’t show fear, take precautions of course but don’t be afraid.

  • Jon King · March 25, 2020 at 4:47 pm

    Scoop, I think the blond girl used to play for USC. A friend of ours is a volunteer coach there and is friends with Michael from juniors. He used to hit with one of the girls on the team when he was in Cali to train.

  • Scoop Malinowski · March 25, 2020 at 7:25 pm

    Jon, big strong girl, slightly overweight but fantastic strokes and form.

  • Sam · March 27, 2020 at 10:54 am

    “Had to be a college player is my guess, did not recognize her as a pro.”

    I guess that’s his girlfriend?

    “Agree it is weird how some people are criticizing Mmoh for playing tennis in a public place.”

    It seems they are just looking for a scapegoat. 😛

    “It’s his risk”

    Very little risk at that.

    “Exercise and fresh air are important.”

    Definitely. And sunshine.

    “Some people are overly afraid of this hysteria.”

    Sadly, so many people are.

    “I thought we were always told to have no fear and go on living our lives, don’t show fear, take precautions of course but don’t be afraid.”

    That’s good advice.



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