On this day: Dwight Davis beats Ernests Black in first Davis Cup match!


by   |  VIEW 1063
On this day: Dwight Davis beats Ernests Black in first Davis Cup match!

Back in 1899, four players from the Harvard University tennis team decided to make an international competition and challenge the rivals from Great Britain (British Isles). That summer, Davis and his friends traveled to the West Coast to try their skills against the finest players from California, enjoying so much and deciding to realize an idea of creating international competition.

The United States Lawn Tennis Association had liked the plan and they gave the green light for it, bringing Dwight Davis, one of those Harvard players who came up with tournament format and also with the trophy, to this story.

Davis spent $750 on silver trophy bowl that would become one of the most significant awards in tennis, completed in February 1900 and getting ready for the first presentation six months later. Players from Great Britain were considered to be the best in the world at that time and they agreed to come to the USA, setting the ground for the first Davis Cup in August 1900 at the Longwood Cricket Club in Brookline, Massachusetts, on the grass surface.

Davis came up with a three-day format that would stand ever since in the past 119 years, with two singles encounters on day one and three and doubles one between those. A few weeks earlier in Boston, Davis required a formation of the committee that would be in charge of everything related to the competition and received a positive answer from James Dwight, the president of the United States National Lawn Tennis Association.

The very first Davis Cup match took place on August 8 and Dwight Davis defeated Ernests Black 4-6, 6-2, 6-4, 6-4 to write the history of the competition that he founded. The court was wet and slippery after heavy rain although the organizers gave their best to bring them to the best possible shape and allow the action.

Davis was the more aggressive player on the court, rushing to the net and keeping the points on his racquet after moving the Briton around the baseline. In the second match of the day, Malcolm Whitman completed an excellent day for the USA and Collegiate players, beating the future three-time Wimbledon champion Arthur Gore 6-1, 6-3, 6-2 and sending the USA 2-0 in front.

It was the baseline battle as they both opted to stay behind and went to the net only after setting a smooth volley execution, with Whitman playing on a higher level on both serve and return to mover over the top in no time at all.

On the next day, Dwight Davis and Holcombe Ward (three-time US Open doubles champions) took down Ernests Black and Herbert Roper-Barrett 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 to complete a clean sweep and win the very first Davis Cup. The first set was decided in the closing stages, with Davis and Ward winning the last three games at 3-4, taking 12 of the final 15 points.

The Americans took a 2-0 lead in the second set and they kept it throughout the set, holding at love in game ten for a 6-4, moving a set away from the triumph. There was a similar outcome in set number three, with an early break for the home squad that secured the win for them after a hold at 15 at 5-4.

An exciting fourth rubber between Davis and Gore was interrupted due to rain at 9-9 in the second set and the match was never completed, leaving the official result at 3-0 for the USA. In the following years, Belgium, France, and Australasia joined the action and Davis Cup was turning into something really special, with numerous epic encounters that have found the place in the history of our sport.