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Dwight Davis – Founder of the Davis Cup Tournament

Dwight Filley Davis was born July 5, 1879 in St. Louis (Missouri) in the family of a successful businessman, from the English family of aristocrats who arrived in the New World and were able to make a millionaire fortune in banking operations and wholesale haberdashery. After graduating from the Smith Academy in St. Louis (an elite primary school of the University of Washington, which teaches boys from 4 to 16 years old), he entered Harvard University in 1896 at the Department of Economics, which he graduated in 1900. (his parents wanted to prepare him for doing business in the family business). Already in his first year, he seriously became interested in tennis, although the first time Dwight took a racket in the resort town of Oceanside (Massachusetts) in the summer of 1894, where his mother Maria brought him. Davis devoted so much time to tennis that it affected his performance and he was left in his second year.

Dwight Davis was a restrained person in life, which did not prevent him from practicing an aggressive style of play on the court, especially since his height of 183 cm contributed to this. In addition, he was left-handed, which in general allowed him to achieve high results. However, the risky tactics of the game brought him not only victories, but also unexpected defeats.

In 1898, Davis reached the final of the US National Championship (in Newport), both singles (lost to Malcolm Whiteman 6: 3; 2: 6; 2: 6; 1: 6), and paired with his friend at the University of Holcombe Ward (in the fight they lost to Leo Weir and George Sheldon 6: 1; 5: 7; 4: 6; 6: 4; 5: 7).

The following year, he became the U.S. Student Singles Champion and won the U.S. Championship as a pair. This couple won the championship title from 1900 to 1901 and in 1905 (lost in the finals in 1904), in addition, they became finalists of Wimbledon-1901 (they lost to the unbeatable pair of Dorehti brothers 6: 4; 2: 6; 3 : 6; 7: 9).

Dwight Davis from 1898 to 1901 was in the top 10 of the United States and was second in 1899-1900.

Despite significant successes on the courts, he became known all over the world thanks to his initiative to host the World Team Tennis Championship, which was named the Davis Cup after the organizer’s death, although it was unofficially named for a long time.

It all started with Davis’s idea to hold a match meeting with his acquaintances tennis players from England. So in 1899, a student at Harvard University Dwight Davis and a leader by nature invited his English friends to visit during the holidays with a proposal to play a match meeting with the Boston team, in which he included his fellow students Malcolm Wightman (US champion in 1898-1900) as captain. and Holcomb Ward (future 1904 US champion). The history of their rivals has not been preserved.

A surprise for the participants of this match was the prize – a silver bowl weighing 6.152 kg with dimensions: 45.7 cm wide and 33.0 cm high. For the manufacture, which Dwight paid $ 750 (an impressive amount at that time) to the American company William B. Durgin Co. from Concord. Because of the thick and wide stalk, the cup is often called the ‟salad bowl”, and friends jokingly called this prize: малень Little Dwight’s Pot ”(approx. Author -‟ small ”because he was the youngest of all friends).

I must say that the masters of gold, who made the cup, turned out to be high professionals. After a century, their product has not lost its luster or presentable appearance.

The receiving party won with a score of 3: 0. Since tennis, which appeared 25 years ago, has become the most fashionable sport, the first international match received coverage in the American and English press and thereby attracted the attention of tennis functionaries in these countries.

In February 1900, the national tennis associations of England and the USA with the consent of Davis decided to hold an annual team tournament between the national teams of England and the USA, the winner who was awarded the challenge cup donated by Dwight. The tournament was called the International Lawn Tennis Challenge. He had one more name “Challenge Cup”. The tournament schedule, which has been preserved to this day, was developed by Davis: on the 1st day – there are 1 numbers with 2 numbers of opponents; on the 2nd day – one match of couples; on the 3rd day – the 1st and 2nd numbers play among themselves. Each match is held up to 3 sets won.

The first official match took place on August 8, 1900 in Boston on the courts of the “Longwood Cricket Club” in the presence of 120 spectators. The US team played in the same composition as two years ago. The British were considered favorites, although they did not participate in both teams: the British had the first numbers, the brothers Lawrence and Reginald Doherty (refused because of a long trip), and the Americans experienced William Larned and Robert Rennes. The first to enter the court were Dwight Davis (team captain) and Ernest Black (Scotland’s first racket). Due to their meeting 4: 6; 6: 2; 6: 4; 6: 4. Further, Malcolm Whiteman defeated the British captain Arthur Gore (finalist of Wimbledon 1899) – 6: 1; 6: 3; 6: 2. The next day, a duel between couples.

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