Tennis Athlete of the Year: Cole Hunt

DREW NASH • TIMES-NEWS PHOTO ILLUSTRATION Canyon Ridge junior Cole Hunt works a photo session Monday afternoon, May 26, 2014, at Canyon Ridge High School in Twin Falls.

TWIN FALLS – After winning the 4A state tennis championship, Canyon Ridge’s Cole Hunt found himself a “nice girlfriend” from Blackfoot high school, Hunt said.

“I found a sneaky way to do it,” Hunt said.

He asked for her phone, claiming the need to call his grandma. Instead, he called his own phone, getting her number.

Clever and confident, Hunt went from a freshman doubles player to the best in 4A singles, one-upping his brother Dallas Hunt, who graduated from Twin Falls last year after two consecutive second place finishes.

“He is an all-around talented athlete, a classy kid,” four-time All-American, Canyon Ridge coach Tiffany Moilan said. “On the court he is a fighter, and there are many times he could have thrown in the towel and accepted his loss, but he is a fighter who digs deep and plays with a lot of positive attitude.”

Hunt’s timing was off in the state tournament. Without a significant striking advantage against the best in Idaho, Hunt had to find a different edge.

“He wasn’t striking the ball as well as I had seen him the week before, it was split second timing thing,” Moilan said. “He just found a new winning strategy which was consistency and attacking his opponent’s weaknesses.”

Said Hunt: “I just went in there with a positive mentality.”

Hunt, a sophomore not at his best, pulled out all the stops for the trophy, wearing eye black and “sweet socks” to “intimidate” his opponents.

Cole Hunt didn't pick up the approach from his brother; the two growing up “smashing” at nearby tennis courts whenever they got bored.

Hitting coach and partner Kory Putnam has worked with both Cole and Dallas, who is now serving an LDS mission in Argentina.

“In the last year and a half Cole has developed a lot, mostly his mental approach,” Putnam said. “He and his brother are very different. Dallas was more introverted, Cole more outgoing. Neither of them let situations get to them.”

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There were plenty of things that could have taken Cole Hunt off his game. He played on the Canyon Ridge golf team, had tennis elbow, and lives in a household strict about school work.

“My parents told me school work comes first, so I was pretty much busy every minute trying to cram in school work, “Hunt said. “But I would pick tennis over golf, we thought maybe (golf) would mess up my swing, but I guess not.”

Hunt finished the season 24-1.

Coaches think there is still plenty of untapped upside.

“He is willing to put in time to get better, his attitude is phenomenal, he is positive and tells himself he is going to do something, he is not doubtful is confident in himself and has the work ethic to go with it,” Moilan said.

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