Paul Hutchins MBE, 1945-2019
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The LTA is deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Paul Hutchins MBE.
Paying tribute to a man who contributed so much to our sport, Scott Lloyd, LTA CEO 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.”
A life dedicated to tennis
Paul dedicated over 50 years of loyal service to tennis in Britain as a player, a coach and a tennis administrator.
In the UK, there are few players in the modern game that Paul has not influenced. Over time he has captained or coached many ‘giants’ of British tennis including Buster Mottram, John Lloyd, Sue Barker, Mark Cox, Richard Lewis, Jeremy Bates, Andy Murray, Jamie Murray and Heather Watson, all of whom recognise the importance of Paul’s incredible contribution to the game.
Despite having an unassuming profile outside of the sport, he has had a huge impact on tennis. Within the world of tennis, Paul’s passion for the game was recognised far and wide. Mention his name – or ‘Papa Hutch’ - in any tennis administration office or tournament in the world and people will smile.
Paul’s achievements include being Britain’s longest serving Davis Cup Captain, taking the helm for a record 31 ties over a 13 year period and leading the British Team to the Davis Cup Final in 1978. He held the positions of National Team Manager, Head of Men’s and Women’s Tennis, Tennis Lead for the 2012 Olympics and the Delhi 2010 Commonwealth Game, BBC tennis commentator and founder of the Rover Tennis initiative, one of the UK’s most successful junior tennis programmes.
After notable successes on the performance side of the game – first in his own professional playing career and then as Captain and Team Leader of Great Britain teams – Paul then turned his attention to tennis development. It was in this role that he made an enormous contribution to growing the sport from the grassroots to more competitive tennis.
He established the national club league competition for adults and juniors – a club based team competition which has grown to become the single biggest competition in the country with over 1,100 clubs, 6,000 teams and 25,000 players taking part each year.
Paul also set up the LTA’s first performance club programme, with the idea that these clubs formed the backbone of the LTA’s approach to high performance tennis, supporting the majority of performance players in Great Britain. This independent performance club infrastructure provided a route for attracting the best coaches to the best facilities and programmes. Paul was also Director of the Chiswick Riverside Indoor Tennis Club and oversaw substantial development of the club, both in terms of facilities and tennis programming, helping to position it as the leading indoor tennis club in the UK.
A real passion of Paul’s was the hugely popular and high profile ‘Road to Wimbledon’ competition, on which he worked with the All England Lawn Tennis Club and the LTA in establishing and growing. It is the UK’s largest junior grass tournament with over 10,000 juniors taking part from over 800 clubs, parks and schools. Since 2014, Paul also worked tirelessly to expand the competition overseas, giving opportunities to young and aspiring players in India to realise their potential and love of tennis.
Paul continued to have an invaluable impact on the development of tennis throughout his life. As Tournament Director of the Nottingham Open, Paul helped secure a Sport England grant of almost £200,000 in 2015 to boost tennis participation in the area. The funds were used to capitalise on the excitement of the international tournament to establish a community based legacy from the tournament and to build mass engagement opportunities in the region.
Paul’s unparalleled achievements across our sport were marked with him receiving an MBE in the 2017 New Year’s Honours list for services to tennis. No accolade on its own though can quite do justice to the nature of the contribution he made. His impact and influence on tennis was immeasurable, and he leaves behind him a sport that is unquestionably better because he was a part of it.
A true one of a kind, he will be sorely missed and never forgotten.