A winning Deaf tennis player

Karli Dettman
Glen Findell is a talented tennis player. He has played tennis from the age of seven. Glen was one of the top 10 players in junior tennis in Western Australia. But he knew it would be very hard to become a professional tennis player. He went to university. At the age of 22, he met the Deaf tennis community. Since then he has played in international competitions including the Deaflympics. He has won gold medals. He also works as a medical scientist and loves to play tennis on weekends and in the evenings.
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Karli Dettman on 21/08/2012
A tennis racquet and two tennis balls on a tennis court.

Glen was drawn to the tennis court.

In Australian and World Deaf games we are often fascinated with Deaf sports people who have won many medals. They are fantastic role models for the little ones. Glen Findell has travelled to five countries for Deaf competitive tennis and is only 32 years old.

Tennis at a young age

Glen, who was born and bred in Perth, has held a tennis racket since the age of seven. He played a lot of tennis with his twin sister, who also won many medals. In fact, his family loved getting together to play tennis at every opportunity on weekends and during weeknights at the Fremantle Tennis Club. His father Barry won the Fremantle tennis competition seven times in a row. Glen was naturally drawn to the tennis court.

When Glen was 18 years old, he woke up to the reality his family had missed out on a lot of holidays. When he asked his mum why, she answered Because you wanted to enter tennis tournaments all the time. Glen persevered to get in the top 10 players in junior tennis in Western Australia.


During Glen's years at St Jerome's Primary School, he played a range of sports including basketball, tee ball, football and soccer. However, his heart was set on tennis and at the age of 14 years he started to play competitive tennis with adults.

Glen also studied hard as he did not believe in putting all of his eggs in one basket. He felt a good education was important to seal and secure his future career path. He studied at Seton Catholic College and Curtin University to become a medical scientist in cytology.

Glen explains, Some of my hearing tennis associates entered the Tennis College in the USA but failed to succeed as tennis pros. They had to start all over again when they returned to Australia.

Glen says his current peaceful job as a medical scientist helps bring out his tranquil energy, which then turns into active energy in the evenings and weekends when he plays tennis and cycles and jogs.

Deaf tennis

It was at the age of 22 that Glen discovered the Deaf tennis community. He felt he was lucky to have found this community that allowed him to continue his love for tennis.

To qualify for all Deaf Games in Australia and the Deaflympics, athletes must have a hearing loss of at least 55 decibels in their better ear. Glen was very interested in competing.

He enrolled in the National Deaf Tennis Championships in Adelaide in April 2002 and won three gold medals. A year later he was in the Australian Deaf tennis team that travelled to Austria where the team came third in the competition.

Glen says he learned a valuable lesson about his hearing aids when he competed in the Deaflympics in Melbourne 2005. It is Deaflympics policy that all Deaf and hard of hearing athletes not wear hearing aids when competing to ensure there is an equality through sports.

I was told to hurry up and go on the court to play with a Swiss player. I forgot to take off my hearing aids, says Glen. He was disqualified. Did he feel any difference playing with hearing aids on the court? No difference, I could hear the racket hit the ball but that's about all. You need eyes to watch the ball and so on.

He has gone on to win many other medals in the last ten years including at the 2009 Deaflympics and the Asia Pacific Deaf Games in South Korea in 2012. Interestingly, he continues to train and compete with people who are not Deaf. He does this because there are few Deaf individuals who have his Grade 1 level tennis skills.

His advice to other Deaf sports people is to Give sport a go and see where it takes you.

Readers comments (1)

Glen won a Newcombe Medal Award by Tennnis Australia last November 2012 for the most outstanding althletic in the disability section. Well done, Glen.

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