Deafness no problem for rising star Lee
Updated: 2013-01-21 16:46
Lee copes well, however, and said that if anything, not hearing anything from the crowd makes life easier on court.
"Actually I don't care about my disability at any time, and on the court it's easy to focus on my match because I can't hear anything," he said. "So it's more convenient to play."
Fourteen-year-old tennis player Lee Duck-hee of South Korea takes part in an interview at the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne, Jan 21, 2013. [Photo/Agencies]
Lee has already proven that he may have what it takes to succeed against the odds, having won the Eddie Herr International, a top under-12 title held each year in Miami.
In Melbourne, he qualified for his first Grand Slam event and though he was beaten in the second round on Monday, he said he was determined to return.
"I am really happy to be here for the first time," he said. "It's a really good opportunity to judge my ability against other players in the world. I am really happy and hope to be here next year again."
Lee's coach, Hoon Park-kyung, said the pair have a special relationship because of the disability.
"Communication between players and coaches in Korea is usually quite simple because the players think that they should obey what they are told," Hoon said.
"I just wanted us to play together, not just teach him, but say small things and if there are any difficulties, say everything (that needs saying). That's the priority."
At 14, Lee is an outstanding prospect and his ambition is to finish in the top 10 in juniors by the end of this year.
In the longer term, he wants to be world No 1.
"I actually played with (Roger) Federer," Lee said, pulling out a photo on his phone of him at an exhibition in Korea, aged eight, sandwiched between Federer and Rafael Nadal.
"Actually, yesterday Federer passed by in the hall and he didn't recognize me. I was very disappointed. I really wanted to take a picture with him. Maybe I can in the future."