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One-armed Kiwi climbs professional tennis ranks

AFP logoAFP 6/06/2017
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Alex Hunt tosses the ball with his prosthetic arm as he practises his serve in Bangkok © Provided by AFP Alex Hunt tosses the ball with his prosthetic arm as he practises his serve in Bangkok Under blazing tropical skies, Alex Hunt tosses the ball high into air and smashes down a serve at a Bangkok tennis court, a feat made possible by a carbon-fibre prosthetic that has replaced his left arm.

The New Zealand tennis player is catching the eye in Thailand with a series of strong showings in Asian regional tournaments that he hopes will propel him higher up the top professional rankings -- and inspire others to follow his lead.

Alex Hunt hits a volley during training with his coach in Bangkok © Provided by AFP Alex Hunt hits a volley during training with his coach in Bangkok Hunt came to prominence in Thailand last month during the Singha Classic tournament

Nelson native Hunt, 23, was born without the lower half of his left arm but has never let that stop him pursuing his passion for tennis, a game he plays against able-bodied opponents.

"When I look at you guys with two arms I think 'Man, that's weird' -- I have no idea what that feels like, so I think you guys are weird and you probably think I'm a little bit strange," he jokes.

He is fairly realistic about his goals.

"I've got dreams, obviously, of playing in a Grand Slam and stuff like that," he said.

"But goals in the next year is just to get a world ranking, and travel the world and have fun, meet cool people like I am in Thailand."

Kiwi tennis pro Alex Hunt holds his racquet with his prosthetic arm during a training session in Bangkok © Provided by AFP Kiwi tennis pro Alex Hunt holds his racquet with his prosthetic arm during a training session in Bangkok Above all he hopes his experience will encourage other youngsters around the world to pick up a racquet. 

"I've been playing since I was two or three, my whole life basically," he tells AFP in between knock-up sessions in Bangkok where he has spent much of the last few months training for the International Tennis Federation's Men's Futures series in Hua Hin this week.

where the Kiwi saw off six players, including Thailand's number 10, to make the main draw.

He's never seen his left arm as a hindrance or unusual.

Alex Hunt tying the laces on his tennis shoes before a training session with his coach in Bangkok © Provided by AFP Alex Hunt tying the laces on his tennis shoes before a training session with his coach in Bangkok "That's a big dream of mine, is to inspire kids or maybe other people that have disabilities - that they don't have to worry about it, that they can live a normal life," he said.

But Hunt faced a tough draw in Hua Hin against the local player and number five seed Wishaya Trongcharoenchaikul in the first round on Tuesday morning and crashing out 6-1, 6-2 to the Thai.

One-armed Kiwi tennis player vies for pro ranks © Provided by AFP One-armed Kiwi tennis player vies for pro ranks
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