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Championship Week
Mmoh Masters Kalamazoo 18s
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With his professional experience and an ATP ranking inside the Top 400, Michael Mmoh was a heavy favorite this year at Kalamazoo's USTA Boys 18 National Championships. Despite the considerable pressure that comes with a No. 1 seeding, Mmoh delivered, winning the title and a US Open main draw wild card with a 6-1, 6-2, 6-3 victory over No. 7 seed Vasil Kirkov.

Singles champion Michael Mmoh
© ZooTennis.com
Mmoh won all seven of his matches in straight sets, and while he was pushed in stretches, none of his opponents could solve the riddle he presented.

"I think my level has been going up, but it's been high the whole tournament," said Mmoh, an 18-year-old from Bradenton, Florida who turned pro last year. "The first round was a little tricky, but I don't think I played bad. I thought Ivan [Thamma] played really well. And obviously, my first match in K-zoo, it's not easy. Keegan Smith was one of my first rounds, and I played really well in that match. I think I've played really well the whole tournament."

Kirkov had similar success at the start of the tournament, winning in straight sets until the quarterfinals, where he faced No. 2 seed and 2014 Kalamazoo 16s champion John McNally. In a tense encounter that featured a controversial coaching point penalty assessed to him at 5-6 in the third set, Kirkov kept his composure to earn a 6-7(1), 6-2, 7-6(2) victory. In the semifinals, against No. 6 seed Zeke Clark, the 17-year-old from Tampa, Florida again faced adversity, losing the first four games of the match before rolling to a 6-4, 6-0 win.

Sunday's championship match, played under mostly cloudy skies and uncomfortable humidity, started nearly as badly for Kirkov as his semifinal match had, but against Mmoh, he could not recover. After holding in his first service game, Kirkov lost six straight games, and went down 5-1 in the second set as well.

"I don't think I played my best," said Kirkov, who is coached by his father Stoyan and also trains with the USTA in Boca Raton. "Michael does that to you. He makes you uncomfortable, and I was a little nervous; my first three-out-of-five match, finals of Kalamazoo; it was expected, but I'm kind of disappointed I didn't play my best. It was still a great tournament."

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Page updated on Monday, March 11, 2019
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