WHITE PLAINS, N.Y., July 8, 2019 – The USTA today announced that the US Open’s annual Military Appreciation Day will be named in honor of 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.
“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. “His family remains very active in tennis, and are great supporters of the sport, and we are proud to name our Military Appreciation Day in his honor.”
US Open Military Appreciation Day is traditionally held on Labor Day Monday throughout the day and evening sessions in Arthur Ashe Stadium. This year, in addition to honoring Lt. Joe Hunt, military families and wounded warriors from around the country will be recognized on the court and will participate in the coin toss prior to all matches.
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.
The USTA has recognized many individuals and institutions since the inaugural Military Appreciation Day at the US Open in 2012, including the launch of a Public Service Announcement featuring Dr. Jill Biden that highlighted the USTA’s efforts to use tennis to support military families; the honoring of dozens of Wounded Warriors from all branches of the service during the event; and the inclusion of top military officials and veterans in Military Appreciation Day Ceremonies at the Open throughout the years.
Also of note, since 2014, US Open Sponsor Chase has annually donated US Open tickets to be distributed to various military affiliated organizations to attend Military Appreciation Day, including USO New York, Naval Weapons Station Earle, and the U.S. Coast Guard to name a few. In 2017, the US Open offered the First-Ever Military Discount to Day and Night Sessions.
Lt. Hunt was previously honored at Military Appreciation Day during the 2014 US Open with members of the Hunt family joined on court by Vice Admiral Walther E. “Ted” Carter in Arthur Ashe Stadium.