Photo : Martin Sidorjak
The first Davis Cup was held in 1900 at the Longwood Cricket Club in Boston between the United States and Great Britain, then playing under the name of the British Isles, and the Americans won.
The Davis Cup concept, which provides a unique team environment in an otherwise individual sport, was conceived a year earlier by four members of the Harvard University tennis team, who wanted to set up a match between the USA and Great Britain. Once the two national associations agreed to make the idea happen, one of the four Harvard players, Dwight D. Davis, designed a tournament format and ordered a trophy, buying it with his own money.
The tournament was originally known as the International Lawn Tennis Challenge but soon became known as Davis Cup named after Davis’ trophy.
In 1905, Davis Cup expanded to include France, Austria, Belgium, and Australasia, a combined team of players from Australia and New Zealand. By the 1920s, over 20 nations were playing in the competition. In 1969, a year after the start of the Open Era in tennis, 50 countries competed in Davis Cup. In 1972, the event underwent a major change of format as the Challenge Round was abolished which resulted in the reigning champion having to play every round instead of getting a bye directly into the Final. That same year, Nicola Pietrangeli played his last tie for Italy. He still holds several Davis Cup records including most rubbers played (164) and most rubbers won (120).
In 1981, the Davis Cup format was changed once again to create a 16-nation World Group with the remaining countries split into regional Zone Groups with promotion and relegation possible. The competition’s current format was implemented in 2019, with 18 nations competing in one venue to be crowned World Champions. A record 155 nations will participate in Davis Cup this year as Team Canada presented by Sobeys attempts to defend the prestigious trophy they won in 2022 for the first time since making their debut way back in 1913. Not only did Canada win their first title, but they also reached the No. 1 spot at the top of the Davis Cup rankings for the first time in team history. Davis Cup is the premier international team event in men’s tennis and that’s why all of tennis’ legendary names have taken part in the illustrious competition over the years