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For 12 consecutive years, a Hunt family member has played for the Jamestown High School tennis program.
Senior Katie Hunt, Jamestown’s No. 2 singles player on the girls tennis team, is the last of four siblings who all played tennis for Jamestown dating back to 2004.
With her final season of high school tennis in full swing, Hunt is trying to add to her family’s 12-year legacy at Jamestown.
Hunt was introduced to tennis at a young age by her parents, Ron and Heather Hunt, who have played tennis consistently since their teenage years and wanted to pass their love for the game onto their children.
In 2003, after moving from Fairfax to Williamsburg, Ron and Heather were playing tennis with their children – Zach, Josh, Abby and Katie – on a neighborhood tennis court, as they still do to this day.
Jamestown’s boys tennis coach Bob Artis noticed Zach, the oldest Hunt child and a freshman at Jamestown at the time, playing and encouraged him to try tennis at the high school level.
“The rest is history,” Ron said. “Zach switched from soccer to tennis. The rest of his siblings admired his competitive spirit and followed him into tennis.”
Katie followed suit, picking up the game up casually at first before transitioning into playing competitively in tournaments when she reached middle school.
While Katie developed her own tennis skills as a preteen, she watched her older siblings thrive in Jamestown’s tennis program. A Hunt family member competed in the Virginia High School League state tennis tournament for seven straight years from 2007 to 2013.
For Katie, the pressure to follow in her siblings’ footsteps as a successful tennis player at Jamestown was always present. Every one of Katie’s siblings played in the state tennis tournament.
Zach appeared in the 2005 boys state semifinals, Josh helped the Eagles boys team win a state championship in 2010 and Abby was a Bay Rivers District and Region I doubles champion her senior year before losing in the state semifinals.
Ron and Heather described the pressure Katie felt as more of a “family expectation,” in the sense that her older siblings worked hard and played well, contributing to Jamestown’s team success.
And while Katie acknowledged the existence of that pressure to perform, the youngest Hunt child embraced it.
“I didn’t ever feel pressure in a negative way,” she said. “It was more of an ‘Oh, my gosh. It’s my turn now’ type of thing. It wasn’t really a negative thing.”
As a freshman at Jamestown in 2012, Katie was paired with her sister Abby, the team’s senior captain that season. Having Abby on the team during her first season at Jamestown made the transition into playing high school tennis easier for Katie, who has a reserved nature.
“I watched her a lot, even in practice,” Katie said about her one year playing with her sister. “I loved it. It helped me adjust into [playing tennis at the high school level], having someone on the team as a friend.”
Katie did not have the chance to contribute as a singles player during her freshman year, just missing out making a top-six singles spot.
As a sophomore, Katie broke into the starting lineup at Jamestown, playing in the No. 5 singles spot before losing a challenge match, in which two teammates play a match to determine seeding, and dropping to No. 6 for the remainder of the season.
Making the most out of her No. 6 role, Katie went undefeated in singles for the remainder of the season, culminating with a 6-1, 6-4 win against Western Albemarle’s Stephanie Barton during the 2013 state championship match.
Her win helped lift Jamestown’s girls tennis team to a 5-3 victory against Western Albemarle, marking the program’s first state championship since 2006.
“I was really surprised. I wasn’t necessarily expecting us to win,” Katie said about the 2013 state championship. “It was a really cool feeling because Josh had won states in 2010. I remember feeling his feelings when he won. It was maximized when I was actually a part of it.”
Despite helping Jamestown win a state championship as a sophomore, Katie downplayed her role in the Hunt legacy when compared to Josh and Abby.
“I’m probably not going to be a part of [the legacy] as much as Josh and Abby because they both had more states experience than me,” she said. “I fit into it a little bit because I contributed to states my sophomore year.”
Katie, who played in the No. 2 singles spot, and the Eagles girls tennis team went through a down year after their championship year in 2013, posting an 8-7 record and losing to Grafton in the Conference 19 championship match in the 2014 season.
With one year remaining to round out her time as a Jamestown tennis player, Katie is hoping to help the Eagles make one more run at a state championship and to cement her own individual legacy as a Jamestown tennis player.
No matter the outcome this season, Katie and the rest of the Hunt family have been a major part of Jamestown’s tennis program. For Artis, imagining the Jamestown tennis program without a Hunt family member is unfathomable.
“It’s going to be so weird to not have any Hunt tennis players at Jamestown,” he said.
Tennis figures to be a big part of Katie’s life even after she leaves Jamestown and heads to college. She is planning to attend the College of William & Mary and plans to play club tennis for the Tribe.
Describing tennis as a “lifetime sport,” it’s likely the Hunt tradition of tennis will continue down the road. Despite being a senior in high school, Katie gave a definitive answer when asked if she wanted to pass tennis on to the next generation.
“Definitely,” she said with a smirk.