Sporting Life

Lee Duck Hee's unique abilities

Sporting Life - January 2015

He is a young South Korean tennis player with an inspiring story about how he plays the game.

Lee is quickly gaining world attention as he climbs the international tennis rankings. The South Korean earned his first ATP ranking point in 2013 aged 15 and by early 2014 was ranked 6th in the International Tennis Federation’s junior boys category.

A unique story

One of the things that make his story unique is the discovery that Lee was hearing impaired in the second grade.

Now at 16 years-old, Lee is unable to hear the sound of the ball, the umpire or line judges – or even the crowd cheering him on.

But despite this, his story and continued successes have captured the hearts of tennis fans as well as tennis greats. In fact, he first came to the public’s attention when Rafael Nadal tweeted news about the deaf player’s ATP ranking to his 4.6 million followers.

“Being deaf is challenging and troublesome, but I try not to worry about it and concentrate on training,”

Playing by instinct

“Being deaf is challenging and troublesome, but I try not to worry about it and concentrate on training,” Lee explains. “When I first played tennis I thought it was too hard and I didn’t want to play.”

By relying upon his instincts and his sight, Lee doesn’t see his disability as a problem on court, and says he is able to concentrate more deeply without sound as a distraction.

“I feel like I can play better because I can concentrate more than other players,” Lee says.

Disability or opportunity

Through practice. Lee believes he is able to overcome any weaknesses. The only thing that may stand in his way from time to time, is not being able to hear the calls and communicate with the chair umpires and linesmen.

But like a true champion, Lee turns his disability into an opportunity in his passionate for tennis. And like any young player on the circuit his ambition knows no limits.

“I know my efforts will eventually lead me to good results,” Lee says. “My dream is to be no.1 in the world and I believe I can make it. So I will not give up – and keep working towards this goal.”