2 Jun 2017

One-armed Kiwi tennis player holds nothing back

From Nine To Noon, 9:40 am on 2 June 2017

New Zealand tennis player Alex Hunt was born without his left arm, but he says he doesn't feel different to anyone else on the court.

The 23-year old Nelsonian's prosthetic arm does a pretty good job of throwing the ball up in the same spot for a serve, he says.

Hunt is currently in Thailand competing on the International Tennis Federation Circuit for his first ranking point. At a recent tournament, he beat eight able-bodied players before losing in the quarterfinals.

He says that he comes from a tennis family and first played at three or four.

"It goes a long way up the family tree. I was always around tennis racquets as a young kid and grew to love the game myself."

Growing up, he didn't know he was different because his family didn't treat him any differently to his older brothers, he says.

"I guess that just flowed into the tennis. I was at these tournaments when I was seven years old and just treated exactly the same as the other athletes around me."

Hunt says that his serve and forehand are the strongest aspects of his game and having a prosthetic arm isn't really an impediment.

"The prosthetic arm does a pretty good job of throwing the ball up in the same spot, it's just a little bit tough in the wind."

The biggest difference (and hurdle) is having to change his grip to hit a backhand, he says.

"From a young age, my backhand has always been… a little bit of a weakness, but it's slowly coming forward and getting a bit better."

As a kid, Hunt's tennis heroes were Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras.

"Then watching Roger Federer start to topple those guys, then just make what's probably the best career in tennis history is just awesome, eh? And he's still going hard and winning grand slams, as we've seen - pretty awesome."

Local players are also a "massive inspiration".

"Watching them on TV, Marcus Daniell, Artem Sitak... and Rubin Statham is doing awesome in singles, as well. Those guys are a pretty big inspiration for the rest of us guys trying to make it. And it just makes you realise that if you train hard enough and work for it like those guys have, then I guess it's possible."