(Reuters) – Lee Duck-hee became the first deaf player to win an ATP Tour main draw match on Monday when the South Korean defeated Henri Laaksonen 7-6(4) 6-1 in the first round of the Winston-Salem Open.
The 21-year-old fired nine aces on the way to claiming the win after a lengthy rain delay on the hardcourts in North Carolina.
Diagnosed as deaf at the age of two, Lee cannot hear calls from the line judges or the umpire and relies on signals and gestures for the information.
“People made fun of me for my disability. They told me I shouldn’t be playing,” Lee said https://www.atptour.com/en/news/lee-winston-salem-2019-monday after the match.
“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.”
Next up for Lee is a second-round meeting with third seed Hubert Hurkacz of Poland on Tuesday.
(Reporting by Rory Carroll; Editing by Peter Rutherfordpeter.firstname.lastname@example.org; +822 6936 1482)