The world of professional tennis is filled with sounds. Bouncing balls, grunting players, out calls, screams of triumphs, frustration, noise from spectators and umpires.
Imagine competing on the tour and being unable to hear any of it. Such is the case with Duckhee Lee of South Korea, who is completely deaf.
His condition was diagnosed shortly after he was born. Despite his handicap, he started playing tennis at a young age and enjoyed tremendous success in Asian junior tournaments.
At just 21, Lee is steadily climbing up the tennis ranks, currently slotted #217 in the world. He has won several titles on the Futures Tour and reached the final of the Little Rock Challenger earlier this year.
Lee travels with his coach and an assistant – who serves as his interpreter. This is a necessity, as sign language is not universal. There are as many as 300 different languages in use around the world today. Lee primarily relies on the interpreter, but is also adept at reading lips.
In an interview with Tennis World magazine in 2018, Lee stated that that he focuses on watching his opponents intently as they connect with the ball and that he also tries to see as much video footage of his opponents ahead of matches whenever he can.
In another interview, Lee stated that one of his biggest challenges
was in hearing umpires calls. In and out hand signals vary from country to country. He can read lips fairly well in English (and Korean) but in other countries he has difficulty understanding scores as they are called by the umpire.
Come to the Boone Center July 29-August 4 and see this remarkable talent and role model. He’ll hear your support – even though you may not know it.