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Memorial Day: Remembering Joe Hunt

Lt. Joe Hunt – US Navy Pilot and World War II Hero

10sBalls would like to remember Lt. Joe Hunt.  Hunt, who won the U.S. Nationals in 1943 by beating Jack Kramer while on leave from the Navy, was killed when his Navy fighter plane crashed into the Atlantic Ocean in February of 1945.  He is the only U.S. Nationals or US Open champion to lose his life in service to his country. 

Joe Hunt – The Golden Boy of American Tennis

Hunt, a native of Southern California, is the only man in history to win the U.S. Nationals boys’, juniors, collegiate and U.S. men’s singles titles. As a freshman at the University of Southern California, he went undefeated in both singles and doubles, and at 17, he became one of the youngest men to reach the top ten in the U.S. rankings.  At 20, he played Davis Cup for the U.S.  Hunt transferred to the U.S. Naval Academy, where he played both tennis and football, winning the Intercollegiate singles championship and earning the game ball from the Army-Navy gridiron battle as a running back.  Hunt made back-to-back runs to the semifinals of the U.S. Nationals in 1939 and 1940 before breaking through and capturing the singles title at 24 years of age while on leave in 1943. 

Jack Kramer (L), after being defeated by Lt. Joe Hunt (R), at the National Amateur Tennis Championship, in Forest Hills, NY

“Lt. Joe Hunt was a special player whose career was tragically shortened in dedication and service to his country,” said Patrick Galbraith, USTA Chairman of the Board and President. 

Hunt lost his life months before the end of World War II and weeks prior to his 26th birthday. He was posthumously inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1966.