Lost Trophy Brings Recognition to Forgotten US Tennis Hero

I stumbled across an article by Kurt Streeter in the LA Times entitled ‘Great Read’.  I trusted the title so decided to give it a go.

It was a fascinating story whereby a lost Mens Tennis Trophy from 1938 was found in a house sale and purchased for $10.  The buyer then sold it for $65 on eBay, which my best guess would tell me is a fraction of it’s real worth.  But that’s not the story, and certainly not where it ends.  The buyer on eBay was an LA tennis enthusiast, who donated the trophy back to the original club.  The trophy from 1938 had never been engraved, so the club officials searched all available records to establish the winner.  Eventually they came up with the name Joe Hunt, and what followed was more research into his career.

It emerged that Joe Hunt was one of the greatest players that Ojai Valley Tennis Club had seen, a National Boys Champion, National Junior Champion and also a National College Doubles Champion in 1938.  But when war hit in 1940, Joe Hunt transferred to the Naval Academy in Annapolis.  In 1943 serving in the Pacific and Atlantic, he petitioned for short leave so that he could play in the US National Championships at Forest Hills, the equivalent of today’s US Open.

Tennis Trophy

Joe Hunt – US National Tennis Champion in 1943

Joe Hunt made it to the Final against the great Jack Kramer and eventually won the title in 4 sets. This left Joe Hunt ranked No.1 in the Nation and he accepted the plaudits before returning to the military where he was training to be a pilot.  Early in 1945 Hunt was killed when his Grumman Hellcat went into a tailspin at 10,000 feet and shattered as it hit the ocean.  Joe Hunt was only 25.

As the full story was uncovered in April,  the trophy was returned to Joe Hunt’s family, which created widespread media attention.  So, on Monday, during a ceremony at this years US Open, Joe Hunt was at last honoured by the US Tennis Association.

Read the full story here

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