Koontz Energized by ‘Once-in-a-Lifetime’ Trip

By John Packett, RTA Contributing Writer

Koontz Energized by ‘Once-in-a-Lifetime’ Trip

RICHMOND– After a “once-in-a-lifetime” experience in Europe this spring, Hunter Koontz plans to return in time for the Mercedes Benz Greater Richmond Tennis Championships July 27-31 at Raintree Swim and Racquet Club.

Koontz had a few weeks to recover from his trip, where he made stops in Madrid, Spain, Rome and Paris as a hitting partner for the U.S. Federation Cup team and Team USA as they prepared for the French Open and Wimbledon.

“It was an amazing experience,” said Koontz, the two-time defending champion in the men’s draw of the city tournament.

After getting permission to leave his new position as an assistant teaching pro at the Country Club of Virginia, Koontz left Richmond for five weeks. It was the first trip outside of the country for the former Virginia Tech standout and 2016 graduate.

Before going overseas, Koontz was sent to Orlando, Fla., the site of the new U.S. Tennis Association National Training Center.

“That place is unbelievable,” said Koontz. “I got to meet a lot of coaches down there. Saw some familiar faces.”

Then he was off to Madrid, where the Madrid Open was in progress on the red clay courts of Europe.

“I got a coaches’ badge when I was in Madrid and a coaches’ badge while I was in Rome so I could go basically anywhere in the tournament,” said Koontz. “I was sitting in a bunch of players’ coaching boxes and I got to see a lot of great tennis.”

Koontz also spent time hitting with  U.S. players Shelby Rogers, Alison Riske, Cici Bellis, Jennifer Brady and Varvara Lepchenko.

“On the trip, I hit with 24 different people,” said Koontz. “I only had one day where I didn’t hit at all, and that was in Rome, so I went and did all the touristy stuff.”

The last stop for Koontz was in Paris, where he hit on seven different courts at Roland Garros.

Koontz said he would rate the trip as a “10 out of 10 experience.” He said he would consider going on training trips again.

“From a networking standpoint, all the people I met within the USTA and some of the girls in general, I think there could be something there in the future,” said Koontz, a former Deep Run standout. “Right now, I’m teaching tennis at CCV. It’s a great place to be for the time being.”

Upon returning to Richmond, Koontz played in the McDonald’s Mid-Atlantic Clay Court Championships at Salisbury Country Club, where he lost in the quarterfinals of singles and the semis in doubles.

The city tournament offers $2,700 in prize money, with $500 going to the men’s and women’ singles champions and $400 to the doubles winners. Play begins at 5:30 p.m. Thursday and runs through Sunday evening.