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Australian Open Hero Michael Mmoh Has Irish Blood

Australian Open Hero Michael Mmoh Has Irish Blood
Eoin Harrington
By Eoin Harrington
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There was plenty of drama overnight at the Australian Open, with American Michael Mmoh one of the stand out stars of a shock-filled day of play in Melbourne.

#2 seed Casper Ruud exited at the second round, as did #12 seed Alexander Zverev at the hands of 25-year-old Mmoh, in two huge early exits.

Mmoh, ranked 107th in the world, only qualified for the tournament through the "lucky loser" system. The system rewards the highest ranked player who fails to progress through the qualifying tournament, in the event of a competitor pulling out of the final tournament.

It was an extraordinary turn of fate for Mmoh, who was visibly emotional after the biggest win of his career.


It turns out that Mmoh has quite the multinational background, having been born in Saudi Arabia and holding US and Australian citizenship.

Most intriguingly for Irish sporting fans, however, will be Mmoh's links to Ireland - with his mother Geradline hailing from County Monaghan.

Michael Mmoh's Irish roots explored


Michael Mmoh could conceivably declare for any one of five different countries. Born in Saudi Arabia in January 1998, he holds dual Australian and American citizenship, and was born to a Nigerian father.


His mother, Geraldine O'Reilly, was born in County Monaghan in Ireland, and met Mmoh's father while she was working as a nurse in the country and his father was coaching Saudi Arabia's Davis Cup team.

O'Reilly and Mmoh's father Tony - himself a former tennis player - raised Michael in Saudi Arabia and Dubai for the early years of his life, with Michael saying in a Sports Illustrated interview that he "misses" the years he had growing up in the region.

His first calling was basketball, with NBA fanatics O'Reilly and Tony Mmoh naming Michael after the legendary Michael Jordan. After some convincing, Mmoh changed his focus to tennis, and has not looked back.


A 2014 feature by Trans World Sport on Michael Mmoh features a brief interview with his mother Geraldine O'Reilly.

In the clip, O'Reilly praises Mmoh's "strong" personality, and remembers how his classmates would rally around him during his school days:


I feel like he's pretty special. I know I'm a mum but he's not like most kids. Very bright in school...you may think he's quiet, the teachers would always say to me 'Michael is sort of quiet in class'. However, he's a leader. He will have all of the class rallying around him, that's his personality. He has a very strong personality.

The first indications were his father came and told me he rolled a ball to him and he caught it with ease, and he said 'this child is very smart'.

It is fascinating for Irish fans to have discovered a connection to this year's Australian Open, and with Mmoh already knocking out a big name in Alexander Zverev, who knows how far the American can go in the tournament.


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