Michael Mmoh, Lucky Loser

Growing up in Saudi Arabia. Why do the women walk behind? Why do they never drive cars? His mother explains. She’s a nurse from Ireland. His father nods. He’s a tennis pro from Nigeria. They had named their son after Michael Jordan. They had named him Michael Mmoh.

If you’re outside the top 100 on the ATP tour, you must travel the world chasing points. How many would want to do that for long? How many fall by the wayside? For some it’s a knee, a wrist, a hip, a mind. For some it’s dollars and common sense. For Michael Mmoh, once the #2 junior in the world, it was a shoulder. It goes out in 2019, never feels right until 2022. Then he becomes a lucky loser.

Flight booked, bags packed. Melbourne, 2023. The Bucs and Cowboys on television. Tom Brady’s last game, but who cares? Mmoh has lost in the final round of qualies. No greater sting than that. Little chance now to get in the main draw of the Australian Open. His fiancée wants him to fly home. The phone rings. It’s from the ATP: “David Goffin had to pull out. You’re next up on court 13.”

Luck means little if you’re not prepared for the opportunity it presents.  Mmoh beats Laurent Lokoli, himself a qualifier, in the first round, then has the greatest win of his career over Andrew Zverev, the #12 seed. 150, 000 dollars falls in his lap. His ranking climbs into the top 100. If he can stay in the top 100, he will never have to enter qualies again for the four major tournaments–Wimbledon, US Open, French Open, Australian Open—where you are guaranteed a good paycheck whether you win or lose in the first round. If he stays in the top 100, he can make a decent living. If. If. If. If.

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2 replies on “Michael Mmoh, Lucky Loser”

Awesome/ interesting details! I’ve often felt every player has their own story worthy of telling in tennis because it’s such a demanding game. At this level even more improbable to pull off

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