Paul Hutchins: 1945-2019
Mr British Tennis and dedicated family man
Paul Hutchins, who was involved in British tennis for more than 50 years as a player, Davis Cup captain, coach, tournament director, commentator and talented administrator, passed away on Wednesday aged 73 following a battle with Motor Neurone Disease (also known as ALS or Lou Gehrig’s Disease).
The Hutchins family issued the following statement, “It’s with heart breaking 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 received an MBE in the New Year 2017 Honours list for services to tennis, which included his passionate and generous support of the LTA and the All England Club, Wimbledon; as a long-time Tournament Director of the Nature Valley Open in Nottingham; and a team leader at the 2010 Commonwealth Games and at the London 2012 Olympics.
Chris Kermode, the ATP Executive Chairman and President, said, "Paul will be deeply missed within tennis and by all who were fortunate enough to know him. His passion and love for our sport was unmatched and his contributions to tennis over the past 50 years have been innumerable. Our thoughts are with his family at this difficult time."
Having started playing tennis at the age of 11, Hutchins was educated at Millfield School, in the south-west of England, and played county tennis for Gloucestershire. Injury ended his nine-season playing career at the age of 25 in 1970, with his best Grand Slam championship singles performances coming in 1968, when he reached the third round at both the Australian Open and US Open. The right-hander was involved in the 1968-69 Davis Cup squads and represented Great Britain in two ties (1-2 record). He also partnered fellow Briton Gerald Battrick to the 1968 Roland Garros doubles quarter-finals (l. to Hewitt/McMillan).
Upon his playing retirement, Hutchins joined a sports marketing agency, but was soon appointed as the Lawn Tennis Association’s first Men’s National Team Manager at the age of 29, in early 1975. The well-spoken, kind and diplomatic Hutchins oversaw the overall strategy to select, discipline players and pick captains for the various British teams for 13 years. As Great Britain’s longest-serving Davis Cup captain, with 17 victories across 31 ties between 1975 and 1987, Hutchins led John Lloyd, Buster Mottram, Mark Cox and David Lloyd to the 1978 final against the United States. Although Great Britain lost 4-1 in the final, it was jointly chosen [with the women's Wightman Cup squad] as the BBC Sports Team of the Year. He would return as the LTA’s Head of Men’s Tennis (2007-2009) for the second time.
Former Davis Cup player Richard Lewis CBE, the current Chief Executive of the All England Lawn Tennis Club, commented in a 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.”
John Lloyd told ATPTour.com, "It's such sad news. He was a very good captain, because he knew the game so well, but more importantly he knew when to get involved at the change overs and when it was time to not get involved. He had no ego, he wanted success for the team, but didn’t chase the limelight himself. Whenever I saw Paul he was always upbeat, always had a smile, always made my day better when I was in his company. Tennis lost a fabulous man today."
Hutchins left full-time employment with the LTA in 1987 to set up his own marketing and sponsorship company, Tennis Concepts, and became a director of Riverside Indoor Tennis Clubs (1987-1997) in addition to work as a BBC television commentator (1987-2007) at Wimbledon and other tournaments.
As a talented administrator, he continued to work closely with the LTA to roll out national performance programmes, leagues and initiatives over the past 30 years. With the All England Club at Wimbledon, where he was a Trustee, Hutchins helped to develop the United Kingdom’s largest junior tournament, The Road to Wimbledon, involving more than 10,000 junior players annually, as its Tournament Director in UK and Asia. In May 2016, he also became the International Tennis Director of Aspria European Club network.
Scott Lloyd, son of David Lloyd and the LTA’s Chief Executive, said in a statement, "On behalf of everyone at the LTA we are deeply saddened by the news of Paul Hutchins' passing. He 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."
Hutchins, who resided in Wimbledon, is survived by his wife, Shali, and four tennis-playing children, Romy, Lauren, Blake and Ross, a former British Davis Cup player, who is the Chief Player Officer of the ATP.
Paul Raymond Hutchins, MBE, tennis player and administrator, born 5 April 1945, died 13 March 2019.
THE TENNIS WORLD PAYS TRIBUTE
Paul Hutchins was a great champion, both on and off the court. He had a lifelong love of the game, and the tennis community will never forget him. My deepest condolences to his family and friends. https://t.co/U5jiRBWPck— Billie Jean King (@BillieJeanKing) March 15, 2019
The LTA is deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Paul Hutchins MBE.— British Tennis (@BritishTennis) March 14, 2019
Paul made a remarkable contribution to our sport and was a true hero of tennis in Britain. Our thoughts are with his family and all those who were fortunate enough to know him. https://t.co/31xBPXjkNo pic.twitter.com/rT31UlDRiY
Terribly sad news that Paul Hutchins MBE has died.— Andrew Castle (@AndrewCastle63) March 14, 2019
With love to his wonderful family. His wife Shali, daughters Romy and Lauren and sons Ross and Blake.
He was universally popular and I feel lucky to have been able to talk so frankly with him over the last few months.
Paul Hutchins was truly one of the all-round good guys and I am very saddened to hear of his passing. His selfless contribution to tennis, his warmth and great personal friendship will be sorely missed. Thoughts are with Ross and family at this sad time.— Craig Tiley (@CraigTiley) March 15, 2019
The passing of Paul Hutchins is very saddening. He was a friend, colleague & mentor to many of us. A role model in every possible way. He had the strongest family values, treated friends with warmth & loyalty. The greatest Davis Cup Captain we have ever had. We will miss you Paul— Leon Smith (@LeonSmith) March 14, 2019
Sad news about Paul Hutchins who was always so involved in British tennis bringing his enthusiasm wherever he went. A true gent & the whole tennis family will miss him. Thoughts to his lovely family at this sad time.— Jo Durie (@Jodurie) March 14, 2019
Very sad to hear the passing of Paul Hutchins. An outstanding man on all levels which has been passed right through to his whole family. Battled MND courageously. All my thoughts to his family.— roger rasheed (@roger_rasheed) March 14, 2019
Paul Hutchins was a wonderful human being. He was a class act who represented the best of Great Britain n tennis worldwide. A good friend he spent his life as a fine player n a great Davis cup captain. My sincere condolences to Ross n the Hutchins family. The game will miss him.— Vijay Amritraj (@Vijay_Amritraj) March 15, 2019
I’m very sad to hear the passing of Paul Hutchins, my thoughts are with his family who have lost the most loving and caring man. He always supported me and no doubt everyone around him and in British Tennis.— Kyle Edmund (@kyle8edmund) March 15, 2019
One of the kindest , most honorable human beings I have ever had the privilege to know he will be dearly missed The tennis family has lost a terrific man heartfelt condolences to the Hutchins family https://t.co/LcZcl71F5U— Paul Annacone (@paul_annacone) March 14, 2019