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Butt was tennis star, inspiration

Paul Butt, a standout tennis player from Albuquerque during the 1950s and 1960s, died March 5 in Scottsdale, Ariz., where he lived. He had worked in the brokerage business there since 1973 and before that in Albuquerque for several years.

He was 84.

Butt was born in Albuquerque and grew up in the city. He graduated from Highland High School in 1949, the year it opened. He went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in 1955 from the University of New Mexico and later an MBA from UNM.

Butt dominated men’s tennis in New Mexico for more than a decade. He was the No. 1 ranked player in the Southwest in 1954 and 1963. According to his family, he won the New Mexico Open men’s singles nine times and the New Mexico Closed men’s singles an astonishing 14 times.

He also won numerous events in California, Texas and Arizona. In 2017 he was inducted into the USTA Southwest Hall of Fame.

Perhaps his biggest contribution to New Mexico tennis was his influence on numerous New Mexico players during the ’50s and ’60s, including Jack Kennedy and Tim Garcia, among many others. He coached the Lobo men’s team from 1958-1960.

Butt, who competed for the Lobos, was honored by UNM tennis alumni in 2005 for his contributions to the school’s tennis program. One of three sculptures of the Lobo mascot at the McKinnon Family Tennis Center, located on UNM’s South Campus, is dedicated to Paul Butt.