Paul Hutchins MBE, a stalwart of British tennis over the past decades, died Wednesday afternoon, peacefully aged 73, in the presence of his family following a battle with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease).
Paul was a true hero of tennis in Britain, first as a player, then as a coach, captain, commentator and administrator dedicating over 50 years of loyal service. Scott Lloyd
A statement from his family read: “It’s with heartbreaking sadness that we say goodbye to him. Paul passionately dedicated his life to his family and to an incredible career in tennis. It was his wish for us to thank the very many who have been part of it. He will be very dearly missed.”
Hutchins is the longest serving British Davis Cup captain who took the team to the 1978 final where they lost out to the Americans in the USA.
Scott Lloyd, the Chief Executive of the LTA and son of David Lloyd who played in that 1978 team, said: “Paul was a true hero of tennis in Britain, first as a player, then as a coach, captain, commentator and administrator dedicating over 50 years of loyal service.
“Anyone who came into contact with him could not have failed to be touched by his passion for the sport, his passion for life and his real, genuine interest in people. While we reflect on his memory, his lasting legacy to tennis will endure for a long time to come. Our thoughts go out to his family and all those who were fortunate enough to know Paul.”
The list of Hutchins’ achievements during his lifetime are numerous. For nine years he was a professional tennis player but at the age of 25 retired. A right-hander, his best performances at Grand Slam level came in 1968 when he reached the third round at the Australian and US Opens. He also partnered fellow Brit Gerald Battrick to the 1968 French Open doubles quarter-finals where the pair lost to Bob Hewitt & Frew McMillan.
In addition to being the Davis Cup captain over 13 years for 31 ties, the right-hander was also part of the 1968-69 Davis Cup squad playing in two ties for a 1-2 record.
He excelled as an administrator and was twice appointed Head of British Tennis at the LTA, was Tournament Director for Nottingham and established the now extremely important Road to Wimbledon programme and tournament which is not just played out in Britain, but in Asia as well.
Richard Lewis CBE, Chief Executive of the AELC and former Davis Cup player, paid tribute by issuing the following statement: “Paul was an extraordinary man, colleague and friend. As my Davis Cup captain, he was a great leader, had extraordinary attention to detail, and always had the best of intentions when dealing with everyone in tennis. He has left an incredible legacy for British tennis, not only as a Davis Cup player, Davis Cup captain, LTA Head of Men’s Tennis, Team Leader of the GB tennis team for London 2012, and Tournament Director at Nottingham and the Road to Wimbledon, but also as a husband to Shali and father to Romy, Lauren, Blake and Ross. He will be very much missed by us all.”
It is no surprise that British tennis has gone into deep mourning at his passing.