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Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Eddie Herr ITF Second Seed Mmoh Survives Qualifier in Three Sets; Seven Qualifiers, Two Lucky Losers Reach Second Round

©Colette Lewis 2014--
Bradenton, FL--

Second seed Michael Mmoh is in the habit of winning. The 16-year-old IMG Academy student-athlete has won two major ITF Junior events and a Futures tournament since October, with only one Futures semifinal loss in 21 matches played.

After he failed to serve out the first set against qualifier Christian Sigsgaard of Denmark in Tuesday's first round at the Eddie Herr International, dropping the final five points of the subsequent tiebreaker, Mmoh didn't panic. He made adjustments and took control of the match earning a 6-7(4), 6-2, 6-2 victory.

Mmoh admitted his recent success on the court has helped him focus more in tight situations like the one he found himself in today, as a large crowd of IMG friends, coaches and employees gathered around court 1.

"You're not as worried and you're not as nervous," said Mmoh, who won the Grade A Abierto Juvenil in Mexico City two weeks ago. "It gives you more room to think, to try to figure out what you're doing wrong, why he's beating you, rather than thinking about losing the match, getting caught up in that. It helps so much that I've won a lot of matches recently, especially in this match, because he was playing really well."

The 17-year-old Sigsgaard played nearly flawless tennis in the last five games of the first set, prompting Mmoh to ask loudly if there was an agent available to sign him on the spot. Often incredulous at the shots Sigsgaard was producing, Mmoh admitted he was caught off guard by the Dane's level.

"He was playing really well in the first, and I didn't really expect it," said Mmoh, who accepted congratulations from Nick Bollettieri after the match. "It wasn't like I was playing terrible either, but I was hitting the ball a little short, I gave him time to take big cuts at the ball and he was missing at any time."

Mmoh attempted to pick on Sigsgaard's one-handed backhand, but that produced no advantage, as Sigsgaard used it aggressively when he had the opportunity and also served well on the big points.

In the second set, Sigsgaard began to experience problems with his serve, holding only once, in the first game.  After dropping the second set, Sigsgaard had a long medical timeout for treatment on his right shoulder, and held his first two service games. But by then, Mmoh had sensed the finish line and kept his level high, while the Sigsgaard unforced errors, nonexistent earlier in the match, multiplied.

Mmoh closed out the match with a hold at love, and will go for his eighth straight win on clay against Lian Yu Richard Lin of Taiwan on Wednesday.

"It's definitely not my favorite surface, but I can play on it," Mmoh said. "I'm pretty athletic, move decent on clay, but definitely hard court suits my game better. These courts though are pretty poorly maintained, a lot of bad bounces. And I prefer red clay, a lot more."

In addition to Mmoh, four other US boys advanced to the second round. Reilly Opelka won 6-1, 6-0 over qualifier Enrique Asmar of Colombia, No. 5 seed Alex Rybakov downed qualifier Lucas Koelle of Brazil, qualifier Vincent Lin defeated Nam Hoang Ly of Vietnam 7-5, 1-6, 7-6(0) and lucky loser Sami Kirberg ousted No. 15 seed Domagoj Biljesko of Croatia 5-7, 6-4, 6-4.  Three other qualifiers won their opening round matches, with 14-year-old Yshai Oliel of Israel beating wild card David Mitchell 6-2, 6-2, Kentaro Mizushima of Japan defeating Hady Habib 6-2, 6-3 and Jack Van Slyke of Canada beating Nicolas Moreno De Alboran of Spain 7-5, 6-2.

All the seeded girls in action on Tuesday won, although two had very long tough matches on the Academy Park courts. No. 5 seed Gabby Ruse of Romania barely survived qualifier Aleksandra Pospelova of Russia 7-6(1), 4-6, 7-6(4).  And in an unfortunate first round rematch of Saturday night's Yucatan Cup Grade 1 girls final Sofya Zhuk of Russia defeated Luisa Stefani of Brazil for the second time in four days, this time by a 6-3, 6-7(5), 6-4 score.

American girls advancing on Tuesday were Jessica Ho, a 6-3, 6-2 winner over Ema Lazic of Great Britain, wild card Ingrid Neel, who won 6-4, 6-4 over Lucie Wargnier and qualifier Kylie McKenzie, who continued her impressive play with a 6-1, 6-2 win over Emily Smith of Great Britain.

In addition to McKenzie, two other qualifiers made the second round, with Karine Sarkisova of Russia outlasting wild card Maria Shishkina 2-6, 7-5, 6-4, and Rebeka Masarova of Switzerland defeating wild card Francesca DiLorenzo 7-6(2), 6-0. Lucky loser I-hsuan Cho of Taiwan advanced on Monday with a 5-7, 7-6(5), 6-4 win over Adeliya Zabirova of Russia.

The first round of doubles today saw the top girls seeds fall, with CiCi Bellis and Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic losing to Anna Blinkova and Olesya Pervushina of Russia 6-4, 4-6, 11-9.  The No. 2 seeds in the boys draw, Hubert Hurkacz of Poland and Chan-Yeong Oh of Korea, lost to Casper Ruud of Norway and Mikael Ymer of Sweden 5-7, 6-4, 10-2.

Complete results and Wednesday's order of play can be found at the tournament website.

In the younger age divisions, a brief rain shower around 1:30 this afternoon caused an hour's delays as the hard courts dried, but all second round singles matches were completed.  Boys 12s top seed Zane Khan, girls 12s top seed Himari Kato of Japan, girls 14s top seed Anastasia Potapova of Russia and Boys 16s top seed Sam Riffice all advanced to round of 16 matches on Wednesday.  The bottom half of the 12s 14s and 16s third round will be played on Thursday.