Davis Cup History

Davis Cup history is rich and interesting. What started off as a challenge by Harvard students to their British counterparts in 1900 has now turned into one of the foremost men’s tennis events.

Dwight F. Davis

Dwight F. Davis designed the tournament format. He also personally paid for the now world-famous sterling silver Davis Cup, also fondly dubbed “Dwight’s Pot”.

Initially known as the International Lawn Tennis Challenge, the tournament was renamed the Davis Cup after the death of Davis in 1945. In that first tournament held at the Longwood Club in Boston, Massachusetts over 100 years ago, the American Team, including Dwight Davis, caused a bit of an upset by winning the first three matches.

The tournament was not contested the following year, but in 1902 the Americans held on to their lead. By 1905, France, Belgium, Austria and Australasia (a combined New Zealand and Australian team) had joined the competition. The tournament has, however, been dominated by the USA (31 wins) and Australia (28 wins) since its inception.

Between 1927 and 1932, the French team of Rene Lacoste, Jacques Brugnon, Henri Cochet and Jean Borotra – better known as “The Four Musketeers” – took six consecutive wins. In 1933, the title was wrestled away from the French team by British tennis legend Fred Perry and his team.

In 1970, 50 nations joined the Davis Cup. 1974 saw some high drama when India refused to take the court against South Africa because ot its then apartheid policy. As a result, South Africa won the final without having to hit a ball.

By 1993, 100 nations were competing in the Davis Cup and by 2001, a record 142 nations were competing. Over the 107 years of the Davis Cup history, some of the greatest tennis champions in the world have represented their countries in the tournament. Some of the greats associated with the Davis Cup are Andre Agassi, Guy Forget, John McEnroe, Pete Sampras, Ken Rosewall, Rod Laver and Fred Perry.