Deaf Tennis Player Lee Duck-hee Etches His Name Into The History Books With Landmark Win

The South Korean Tennis Player Is The First Deaf Person To Win A Main-Draw ATP Tour Match
13:07, 20 Aug 2019

Tennis star Lee Duck-hee cemented his name in the history books at the Winston-Salem Open by becoming the first deaf player to win a main-draw ATP Tour match, with a straight-sets win over Henri Laaksonen of Switzerland.

The South Korean hit nine aces en route to a 7-6, 6-1 victory, securing his place in the second round of the North Carolina tournament.

The 21-year-old was diagnosed as deaf at the age of two and depends on lip-reading to communicate. 

During matches, he admits that his disability can make games difficult; unable to hear the umpire's calls, he relies on gestures from the officials to clear up any confusion.

Lee turned pro at 15 and achieved his best ATP singles ranking of 130th in the world in 2017, but has spent the majority of his career on the developmental Challenger circuit.

Speaking in his post-match conference, Lee, who is currently ranked 212th in the world, said that he had a point to prove to his doubters:

People made fun of me for my disability. They told me I shouldn't be playing. I wanted to show everyone that I could do this.

"My message for people who are hearing impaired is to not be discouraged. If you try hard, you can do anything."

Lee’s victory had been delayed by five hours, with thunderstorms sweeping through the area with him two points away for victory but when they returned to the court, Lee quickly finished off his opponent to claim a win he says he wasn’t expecting.

“I thought that I was just going to do my best and try to stay focused, but I came out a winner.”

Lee will now face third seed Hubert Hurkacz in the second round.

“I’m going to go to the match with the same attitude,” Lee said. “I’m going to do my best and see what happens.”