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Davis Cup History (I): Dwight Davis... it all started with him

Wednesday, August 7th, 2019

Do you know why it's called the Davis Cup?

Dwight Filley Davis was a Harvard student and later an American politician, who in 1899 made a proposal to the president of the tennis federation, James Dwight, to create an international competition played in teams. He even paid out of his pocket the champion trophy, the famous 'Silver Salad Bowl'.

• The Davis Cup kicked off thanks to the efforts of four members of the Harvard University tennis team (including Davis) who wanted to challenge Great Britain in a tennis competition. Thus, in 1900, at the Longwood Cricket Club in Boston, the Americans surprisingly defeated the British Islander team.

• In 1905 the tournament was renamed the International Lawn Tennis Challenge, and it grew to include more teams: France, Austria, Belgium and Australasia (a team with players from Australia and New Zealand) were the first teams to join.

• From that moment onwards, the tournament began to be played in a 'Challenge Round' format: the reigning champion would earn a bye directly into the final of the following year while the rest of the teams would have to compete against each other to have the honour of challenging the reigning champion.

• The First World War, known as the Great War, led to the suspension of the competition for three years (1915-1918).

• In 1927 the Davis Cup lived its first great revolution with the arrival of the 'Musketeers', four French tennis players who marked an era: Jean Borotra, Jacques Brugnon, Henri Cochet and René Lacoste played for six years without losing.

• In 1933, the United States, Great Britain and Australasia managed to come back and took control, a domination that would be maintained for more than three decades.

• Between 1940 and 1945 the tournament suffered a second standstill due to World War II.

In November 1945 Dwight Davis died and from that year onwards, the tournament was renamed Davis Cup in his honour.