First deaf tennis player to win ATP Tour match

[Transcript] ESPN and Reuters reported that a deaf professional tennis player from South Korea, Lee Duck-hee, became the first deaf player to win an ATP Tour main draw match on Monday in the first-round of the Winston-Salem Open in North Carolina.

ATP is short for the Association of Tennis Professionals and is equivalent to the NBA for basketball or NHL for hockey.

Lee is 21 years old and has been deaf since early childhood. Lee uses his voice to communicate and lipreads. It doesn’t look like he uses sign language.

He has been playing tennis since he was seven.

Lee said after his win yesterday that his “message for people who are hearing impaired is to not be discouraged. If you try hard, you can do anything.”

An ESPN article said he used an interpreter to translate from Korean to English. It was not a sign language interpreter.

In a 2017 ATP feature video on Lee’s life, his mother explained that she taught him how to lipread because she didn’t want him to rely on sign language interpreters.

Lee depends on umpires’ hand gestures to know what the calls are.

Lee won on Monday and today (Tuesday) is playing against the No. 3 seed Hubert Hurkacz from Poland. As I’m signing this, they are playing. Lee won the first set, while Hurkacz won the second set. The match is not finished, so when we post this news, we’ll include an update on who won the match.

UPDATE: Lee Duck-hee lost his match to Hubert Hurkacz.

ATP Feature:


Supported by:

Convo []

Gallaudet University: []

DEAF NEWSAlex Abenchuchan