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Bianca Peart

Bianca Peart

A Midsummer Night ... in Harlem

NYC's illustrious Shakespeare in the Park brings Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream to Harlem with influences from African and Hispanic Diasporas

It was indeed a perfect midsummer night to watch the premiere of Shakespeare's comedy classic, A Midsummer Night's Dream.

The Classical Theatre of Harlem (CTH) kicked off its unprecedented 18-day production in the recently renovated Richard Roger's Amphitheater in Marcus Garvey Park. The production ushered in a warm welcome to bringing NYC's illustrious "Shakespeare in the Park" to Harlem.

For the past 50 years, over 5 million people have taken advantage of the free "Shakespeare in the Park" productions, historically located at the Delacorte Theatre in Central Park. The reenactments of Shakespeare's pieces have grown to become a quintessential summer ritual.

Seizing the nouveau Harlem Renaissance and the multi-million dollar repair of the Amphitheater, CTH has taken this opportunity to expand the theme of "Shakespeare in the Park" uptown to the culturally diverse and affluently artistic neighborhood of Harlem.

Director Justin Emeka, professor of Theatre and Africana Studies at Oberlin College, is known for creating new approaches to classical theatre. He portrayed an unparalleled interpretation of the original play which deals with the difficulties of love, magical spells, and the realities of life versus the fantasies of dreams.

Emeka seamlessly integrated music, dance, and lifestyle traditions ranging from African to Hispanic Diasporas, signifying the various cultures and backgrounds residing in Harlem. His unique interpretations of classic themes incorporated creative surprises, reflective of modern day societal trends which kept the jam packed audience engaged, full of laughter, and on their toes.

This production lived up to CTH's commitment of presenting the "classics" to the stages of Harlem while heightening the awareness of theatre and great Harlem art. A Midsummer Night's Dream provided a fantastic opportunity for those inside and outside the community to relax and enjoy the magical nature of summer love.

You can catch A Midsummer Night's Dream every night through July 30, 2013 at 7:00 pm located at Richard Roger's Amphitheater (18 Mt. Morris Park West and 122nd Street) in Marcus Garvey Park. The production is free so arrive early! Seats are first come first serve.

Visit www.classicaltheatreofharlem.org to learn more about The Classical Theatre of Harlem.

  • Published in Theatre

Michael Mmoh Reaches Career Milestone

Michael Mmoh won his first USTA Pro Circuit title at the City of Brownsville Men's Pro Tennis Classic in Brownsville, Texas on October, 26, 2014.

Mmoh, the underdog, entered the tournament as a wild card and achieved the title against No. 5 Dennis Novikov (USA) in straight sets, 7-6 (5), 6-1, following a huge break-through in the semifinals against No. 2 Deiton Baughman (USA), 6-1, 3-6, 7-6 (2.)

Turning 17 years old on January 10, Mmoh is the sixth youngest player to win a $15,000 Futures event in tennis history.

After making his first Futures appearance post 2014 Grand Slam season at USA F28 Future in Mansfield, Texas as a wild card, Mmoh reached the semifinals and lost straight sets, 6-2, 6-4, against 27-year-old Dimitar Kutrovsky(BUL) on October 18. However, Mmoh persevered the following week at USA F29 Futures in Brownsville, Texas to win his first USTA professional title.

"I wasn't even planning on playing (in this tournament), but since I did so well in Mansfield, they offered me a wild card," Mmoh said. "If somebody told me I was going to win, I would have thought they were crazy. But match after match I kept on believing in myself."

RELATED ARTICLE: Michael Mmoh Making Moves toward Professional Career

Michael-Mmoh Texas-Grinding Instagram

This is a huge boost for Mmoh towards continuing his journey in the pro circuit. Coming off the win his ATP Ranking is at a career high, 1002.

  • Published in Tennis

Michael Mmoh Making Moves toward Professional Career

After an exhaustive 2 hour and 30 minute action-packed rally, American junior Michael Mmoh, No. 10, was knocked out in the first round against unranked Yunseong Chung from Korea at the 2014 US Open Junior Boys' Singles.

Mmoh dominated the first set but suddenly the 90-degree Fahrenheit heat and his frustration with play calling, combined with a persistent comeback from Chung got the best of him and he lost, 3-6, 6-3, 7-6.

The 16-year-old Mmoh explained his perspective on playing at a junior level.

"I felt a lot of pressure today. My other friends are rivals and have won so you don't want to be left behind, kind of in the dust. Because I was the 10th seed here obviously I was supposed to do better than losing first round."

One of Mmoh's closest friends, Francis Tiafoe, No. 1, is amongst one of his rivals in the junior singles circuit.

Francis-Tiafoe Michael-Mmoh 2014-US-OPEN Doubles-Debut Mike-Lawrence USopen-org 700x467

Francis Tiafoe (left) and Michael Mmoh (right) made their doubles debut in the professional circuit representing USA at the 2014 US Open and extended their journey to the second round. Photo by: Mike Lawrence // USopen.org

"There's also a different mentality when you're playing them (pros). There's no pressure, just playing the game to your fullest, compared to juniors where there are high expectations. It's different and it's amazing how much (your play) can change with pressure and without pressure." Mmoh said after experiencing a minor dosage of what will come in the near future as he prepares to perform in the pro circuit.

"Two years ago I played US Open Juniors I won a round, and same thing back then, no pressure. I was playing and going for everything and believing in everything. It's just different. It's good for me though...experiencing the pressure because if I do make it to the top then obviously the pressure is ten times more."

Right now Mmoh is focusing on performing in the pro circuit and looks up to Frenchman Gael Monfils.

"I like his personality and I think we have a similar game."

They both have a strong serve, forehand, and similar sliding technique. Mmoh's 6'2", 190 lbs stature and power should be advantageous in the pro circuit. He's been training at IMG Academy, led by Nick Bollettieri, the legend who helped produce US tennis great Andre Agassi.

Michael-Mmoh 2014-US-OPEN Junior-Boys-Singles-First-Round-against-Yunseong-Chung Chris-Trotman Getty-Images

Michael Mmoh at 2014 US Open Junior Boys' Singles first round match against Yunseong
Chung Photo by: Chris Trotman// Getty Images

But will college ever be a part of Mmoh's future? "Right now, no. I really love the sport of tennis," Mmoh said with certainty.

Even though his three older siblings graduated from the University of Maryland and he visited the campus several times, becoming a professional tennis player is his primary focus.

"College is nice but I don't want to get distracted. I especially don't want the social life to affect my tennis game. I want to be a pro."

His peer, Noah Rubin, who was a wildcard in the 2014 US Open, entered his freshman year at Wake Forest University with a scholarship where his schedule will allow him to play pro events. After Rubin completes his freshman year he is able to leave the university and return at any
time to complete his degree.

Mmoh wasn't completely aware of that type of scholarship opportunity. He said he would have to investigate more on how to play collegiate tennis that is able to help leverage his professional career.

"You never know what may happen two years from now but right now I am focusing on tennis," Mmoh concluded.

One would think Mmoh would be interested in attending business school with his entrepreneurial experience since he created a mobile app at the age of 13 called "Over-snow."
It's a game where you tap away falling snowflakes before they reach the ground. It is useful to enhance hand-eye coordination.

"For now nothing really grabs my attention," Mmoh said in terms of a future career outside of tennis. Like many athletes, or anyone in general, you can never catch him without wearing his red Beats by Dre headphones.

"But maybe it would be really good to be the owner of Beats." Mmoh quickly said while glancing at his headphones.

Francis-Tiafoe Michael-Mmoh Interview-rocking-Beats-by-Dre

Michael Mmoh close friend and doubles partner Francis Tiafoe being interviewed while rocking his red Beats by Dre

The son of former ATP pro and Nigerian Olympian Tony Mmoh, and coached by former ATP pro Glenn Weiner, Michael is making moves to play professional events regularly. Two years is a long time for Mmoh to evaluate whether or not he plans to attend college. For now, he'll continue to develop his game- especially mentally like he referenced, and go to Futures tournaments and increase his ATP ranking.

Update: On October 26, 2014, Mmoh achieved a career milestone and made tennis history by winning his first professional tournament title at the City of Brownsville Men's Pro Tennis Classic in Brownsville, Texas becoming the youngest player to win a USTA men's Pro Circuit event since Rhyne Williams who won the Pittsburgh Futures in 2007.

  • Published in Tennis

Mind of Monfils

If you're looking for an extra dose of excitement during a tennis match, you have to tune in the Frenchman, Gael Monfils.

Whether he is sliding side-to-side in nearly full splits, or executing jaw-dropping, between-the-legs shots, his performance on the court continuously keeps you in awe. Couple his athleticism with a free-spirited personality, and you have yourself one of the most fascinating players in tennis today.

Gael-Monfils Getty-Images

French professional tennis player, Gael Monfils. Photo: Getty Images

Monfils, ranked No. 20 at the 2014 US Open, advanced to the quarterfinals in the tournament for the second time in his career. In the quarters, Gael was leading two sets to love against 5-time US Open Champion Roger Federer, and unluckily let it slip away-- twice--failing to convert two match-points in the fourth set, before losing in five.

"I was saying to myself, keep it simple and try to make Roger play them because I knew that he will force it ... he will put the first ball in and then for sure come to the net very quick," Monfils said in reference to the two match-point opportunities. "So it was more like be relaxed and just lean a bit more on my forehand return and try to make it. And then we just played those two points, and well done [for Roger]."

Monfils did not dwell too hard on the loss, as he recently called Federer an idol and the legend of tennis. "I come strong. I played good, I [stuck] to my tactic, I was happy that I could do it. I was happy that also -- you know, sometime when you want to do [well], it's tough to deliver." He continued. "At the end I'm frustrated, but I'm happy. I think I gave my best. Simply Roger was too good at the end...I need a bit of time to forget this, but then it (will) give me more motivation."

Gael-Monfils Roger-Federer 2009-French-Open Ryan-Pierse Getty Images-Europe

Gael Monfils (left) Roger Federer (right) at 2009 Men's Singles Quarter Final French Open at Roland Garros in Paris, France. Ryan Pierse/Getty Images Europe

A professional tennis player who hasn't had a coach since November 2012 and won't settle for just anyone, Monfils should be commended for maintaining his physical and mental toughness.

"For sure it's better to have a coach. I won't lie to you. It's better to have someone to help you. I need it. But as I say all the time, it's not easy to feel someone. That person has to be -- has to be, for me, like good, first of all, but has to be hard and also understand my personality. Because I don't think I'm easy, but I think I'm quite a good worker."

Monfils knows the type of coach he wants and has reached out to a select few, but they aren't able to travel full time.

As Monfils remains coachless, it's just him and his Coca Cola (yes, that's right.) During changeovers you can catch him quenching his thirst with a cold Coke. "Well, sometime, you know, I just feel like I want a Coke, and I drink a Coke," Monfils said while smiling.

Before leaving New York after a long run at the Open, Monfils was given a personalized can of Coca Cola by the company as part of their "Share a Coke" campaign.

Gael-Monfils Coca-Cola Twitter

The US Open and New York City is practically a second home for Monfils, as New York was the first place he traveled to overseas with his parents, who are Caribbean. His late father introduced him to family friends in the Bronx.

"Then he [my father] showed me that the community, the black community was behind me. I was not aware about that also, here. You know, and then they started to come to the stadium, bring me that energy, and then they just [taught] me that here that I can feel ... at home and I have a second family also, as I say as even in the French Open," Monfil said explaining why New York City is so important to him.

"So when I feel good, the crowd is behind me and has great spirit, [then] I think I can be very tough to beat."

Monfils has the talent and can win a Grand Slam Title; however, it's simply a matter of him staying healthy, focused, and understanding court position throughout matches. His highest world rank is No. 7 and the furthest he has advanced in a Grand Slam was the semifinals at Roland Garros in 2008.

In the midst of watching Monfils win a title, you can sit back and relish his raw talent. And if you are lucky enough you can "Share a Coke" with Gael.

Watch Video: Gael Monfils and Laurent Lokoli performing in a dance battle during a rain delay at Roland Garros in May 2014.

  • Published in Tennis
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