09 Apr 2013

Deafness proves no barrier

News Article

By Nick Fishpool

Photo: Aoi KobayashiMasatoshi Miyazaki (JPN) and Duck Hee Lee (KOR)

TSUKUBA, JAPAN: The recent ITF Pro Circuit tournament held in the Japanese city of Tsukuba provided a big moment in the career of young Korean Duck Hee Lee as he stepped out onto court to make his Pro Circuit debut.

What made this 14-year old's appearance all the more special was the fact that he was deaf. Being able to hear the ball when struck by an opponent is something that players rely upon to judge the moment of impact and ball speed but Lee, having been born deaf, has had no choice but to learn to play without this advantage.

Speaking back in January where he competed at the Junior Australian Open, Lee said: “On the court it’s easy to focus on my match because I can’t hear anything, so it’s more convenient to play.”

Lee has, to date, enjoyed a great near two-year spell on the ITF Junior Circuit where he has won six singles and three doubles titles and he carried this form into his Pro Circuit debut, dropping just two games in a 62 60 win in the opening round of qualifying. Two more wins saw him qualify for the main draw.

In his first main draw appearance, Lee secured victory with a 61 63 win over Masatoshi Miyazaki but the journey came to an end in round two with a 62 63 loss to 21-year-old Masato Shiga, a player who would go on to claim the doubles title in Tsukuba.

Having now had a taste of the action on the ITF Pro Circuit, Lee will be looking at competing again later this month in China and Korea.