Today in History, February 2, 1945:
Joe Hunt won the U.S. Boy’s Tennis Championship.
Joe Hunt won the U.S. Junior’s Tennis Championship.
Joe Hunt won the U.S. Collegiate Tennis Championship.
Joe Hunt won the U.S. Men’s Singles Tennis Championship.
Joe Hunt won the 21st Annual Bayview Park Tennis Championship.
He was the only person ever to achieve all of these titles.
Why have you not heard of Joe’s name alongside Arthur Ashe, Billy Jean King, John McEnroe, and Serena Williams?
Because at the height of his career in 1938, Joe Hunt transferred from the University of Southern California to another prestigious college…the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis. Joe wanted to serve his country. He continued to excel at Tennis, and at Football for the USNA.
When war broke out Lieutenant Hunt served in destroyers in the Pacific and the Atlantic.
He won the US Men’s Championship while home on leave.
But destroyer duty, escorting convoys in the Atlantic wasn’t enough for the aggressive athlete…after several requests he finally got the opportunity to earn his wings and take the fight to the enemy in the air…what he really wanted to do.
Joe won his last championship against other former champions serving in the military at a match held near the Pensacola Naval Air Station where he was training.
And on this date in 1945, Joe’s F6F Hellcat fighter crashed into the Atlantic during a training accident. He never got to take the fight to the enemy from a carrier. His meteoric rise in Tennis was cut short.
How much potential did we lost during our nation’s wars? How can we possibly repay such sacrifice? Of course we cannot.
But in 2019, the U.S. Tennis Association demonstrated THEY have not forgotten. They named their Military Appreciation Day in honor of Lieutenant Joseph Hunt, USN.