21-year-old Duckhee Lee from South Korea achieved an incredible feat on 19th August when he beat Henri Laaksonen from Switzerland in Winston-Salem, North Carolina 7-6 (7/4), 6-1.
He made history by becoming the first hearing-impaired player to win an ATP main draw match.
A story to remember! Duckhee Lee is making history as the first deaf professional tennis player on the @ATP_Tour. We had a chance to sit down with him to uncover this incredible story.
— Winston-Salem Open (@WSOpen) August 19, 2019
Lee, currently ranked 212 in the world, said, “People made fun of me for my disability. They told me I shouldn’t be playing,” said Lee. “It was definitely difficult, but my friends and family helped me get through. 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 was diagnosed as deaf when he was two and, when he plays matches, cannot hear line calls or the score. He depends on his team or signals from the umpire to understand them.
However, he did not let this disability deter him. Rather, he took it up as a challenge. Lee turned pro at the age of 15 and achieved his career-best ATP singles ranking of 130 in 2017.
His effort was lauded by professionals across the world including former world number one, Andy Murray.
“If I was to play with headphones on, it’s unbelievably difficult to pick up the speed of the ball, the spin that’s coming off the racquet. We use our ears a lot to pick things up,” Murray was quoted as saying on the ATP Tour site.
Isn’t this an inspirational story for all of us? How often do we take little things for granted? What do you think about this? Do let us know your views in the comments section.