Despite the historical special relationship that exists between the United States and Great Britain in politics, economics, and culture, the two countries regularly engage in a battle for supremacy on the tennis court in the largest annual team competition in world sports. The Davis Cup started with two teams in 1900 but now includes 122 nations as of 2014. Although tennis is traditionally an individual sport, the founders of the Davis Cup organised the event so players could have the opportunity to represent their countries as part of a team.
Founders of the Davis Cup
Dwight F. Davis, along with three fellow Harvard University tennis team members, conceived the original idea for the Davis Cup in 1899. The players wanted to challenge the British Isles team, later known as Great Britain. The lawn tennis associations of each nation agreed, which led Davis to devise a tournament format for amateur men's teams. Davis later became a prominent politician as the United States Secretary of War from 1925 to 1929 and the Governor-General of the Philippines from 1929 to 1932.
The Davis Cup trophy
With his personal funds, Dwight F. Davis purchased a trophy made of sterling silver from Shreve, Crump & Low, one of the oldest jewellery retailers in North America. The tennis trophy, eventually known as the Davis Cup, features a design in a classical style by William B. Durgin of Concord, New Hampshire, and crafted by Rowland Rhodes from England.
Early Davis Cup tournaments
Dwight F. Davis was one of the players in the inaugural tournament in 1900 held at the Longwood Cricket Club in Boston, Massachusetts. Although the tournament had the official title of International Lawn Tennis Challenge, it took its more popular name from Davis' trophy. The tournament consisted of four singles matches and one doubles match. The American team won the first three matches, to the surprise of the British.
The tournament did not take place the following year, but the United States team, which still included Davis, went on to win the 1902 tournament 3-2. The British fought back in 1904 with a 4-1 win over the United States.
Australia in the Davis Cup
The tournament expanded to include more teams by 1905. Austria, Belgium, France, and Australasia, which was a combined team from Australia and New Zealand, all competed. The first Australasia victory occurred in 1907 with a 3-2 victory over Great Britain. Australia played as an independent team for the first time in 1914, when it won 3-2 over the United States.
Australian dominance in the Davis Cup
By the 1920s, more than 20 nations competed in the Davis Cup, with Australasia, Great Britain, and the United States dominating the competition. The success of Australians Harry Hopman and Roy Emerson earned the country a spot in the Davis Cup history books. Hopman won 16 titles as captain of the Australian Davis Cup teams, with his first win in 1939. Emerson won eight titles as a player from 1959 to 1967.
As of 2014, Australia is the second most successful team, with 28 Davis Cup victories as an individual team. It also has five wins as part of Australasia. As of 2014, Adelaide-born Lleyton Hewitt holds numerous Australian Davis Cup records, including most singles wins and most years played.
The Davis Cup in the modern era
The Davis Cup tournament began as an amateur competition, but beginning in 1970, professional players registered with national associations could compete. The tournament has included some of the legendary players in tennis history, including Americans John McEnroe, Andre Agassi, and Pete Sampras and Swedish players Mats Wilander and Stefan Edberg.
The 100th final took place in 2012 and was a dramatic contest in which the Czech Republic beat Spain 3-2 at the O2 Arena in Prague. Each year, a new generation of fans enjoys the matches broadcast around the world, and some even pick up tennis racquets and venture out onto the court.
How to buy Davis Cup memorabilia on eBay
You can find a wealth of Davis Cup memorabilia or tennis gear to make you feel like a champion player by searching the large inventory on tennis balls" or "Lleyton Hewitt memorabilia", to find suitable results. Read each item description carefully to learn more about the products and contact the sellers if you have any questions. The Davis Cup started as a competition between two nations, but it quickly expanded to include world-class players from around the globe.