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17-year-old deaf player Duck Hee-Lee to play in the 2016 Australian Open

The tournament starts on Monday.

Lee Duck Hee in action

We are just a few days away from the start of the first Grand Slam of 2016 – the Australian Open. For the next two weeks, the best players in the world will descend in Melbourne and will look to make the Rod Laver Arena their own in their quest to start the calendar year off to a blazing start.

However, along with the Federers, Nadals and the Djokovics, the tournament this year will also witness the game of a 17-year-old from South Korea, going by the name of Duck Hee Lee. What's so different about him, you ask? Well, this kid cannot hear the tennis balls smashing the ad boards or the players yelling out while serving or the crowds cheering from the stands – he was born deaf and can only hear vibrations.

Lee will become the first ever deaf player to participate in any Grand Slam if he manages to come through qualifying. One of the youngest participants in the tournament, Lee is ranked 229th in the world currently and has jumped a whopping 276 places from last year. A look at his recent performances makes for impressive viewing. 

He won seven International Tennis Federation (ITF) tournaments in 2015 and has a total prize money of $41,034. Six of his wins came on hardcourt, which should hopefully hold him in good stead ahead of the competition. 

Speaking about competing in the tournament, Lee expressed happiness and added that he has achieved his dream of qualifying for a Grand Slam.

“I’m happy that I’m gradually making small steps to my goals. I have achieved my dream of competing in a Major,” he said.

Sport provides us with several stories of inspiration. Tennis itself has seen many such moments – Flavia Pennetta winning the US Open last year, Goran Ivanisevic winning the Wimbledon in 2001 etc. Maybe in the form of Lee, we have another chapter to add in the already very glorious book of tennis history.

Here’s a video that would give you a bit more idea about the player (Video credits: ANZ Australia)

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