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Sports Then and Now



The Best Tennis Teams in Davis Cup History. 2

Posted on September 19, 2012 by JA Allen

John McEnroe and Coach Arthur Ashe, Photo from oregonlive.com

The Davis Cup competition has been in existence since the start of the 20th century. Today, it is a function of the ITF (International Tennis Federation), but its beginnings were not nearly so formal.

It began as a challenge between the United States and Great Britain to determine who had the best tennis players—the concept dreamed up by some Harvard tennis players.

One of the Harvard fellows bought the silver cup awarded annually—Dwight Davis. Therefore, the name of the tournament evolved from International Lawn Tennis Challenge to the Davis Cup after the man whose trophy was awarded to team winners.

The challenge gradually expanded to add France, Belgium, Austria and Australia in 1905. By 1920, the number of teams participating had increased to over 20 and, by 1969, to over 50.

By now, the Davis Cup competition includes 123 nations who participated in 2012. In 2007, 137 countries were represented—a far cry from the two nations who began the series.

The United States has won the trophy the most with 32 wins. Australia has won it 28 times, with Great Britain and France each winning nine times. Sweden brought home the cup seven times.

Early on, it was easier to repeat as champion because prior to 1972, if a team won the Davis Cup in the previous year, the following year, the team just had to play one tie—the final, while the “challengers” had to fight it out in zonal competitions throughout the year.

The evolution of the format has been very interesting and necessary with over 100 teams participating every year.

Throughout its long history, the Davis Cup has fielded some remarkable teams that dominated the competition for over a year—often several years.

Here are the best teams in Davis Cup History.

Read the rest of this entry →

Great Men of Tennis: Big Bill Tilden – Tragic Hero? 13

Posted on February 22, 2010 by JA Allen
Big Bill Tilden was Americas first great champion.

Big Bill Tilden was Americas first great champion.

Like many tragic sports figures, “the fault lay not in the stars but in himself” for tennis legend William “Bill” Tilden.

Loving the limelight, the footlights and the spotlight, Tilden shunned real life for the artificial, constructing a world he could not inhabit. No one could. Born into wealth and privilege, pampered by an over-protective mother, and held at arm’s length by a grief-stricken father, Tilden was forced into tennis at his father’s insistence.

Tilden showed promise at an early age, but he did not care for the game. Later on he avoided life by playing tennis, finding the soothing rhythm of its point, counter-point a barrier against outside emotional distress.

Big Bill reigned supreme during the 1920s in America, often sharing sporting headlines with notables like Babe Ruth, Bobby Jones, Red Grange, and boxer Jack Dempsey during a time referred to as the golden age of sports. Tilden won every major tournament he entered for six years, including six U.S. Nationals (now called the U.S. Open). Read the rest of this entry →

  • Vintage Athlete of the Month

    • Hall of Famer Tony Oliva
      July 17, 2022 | 2:15 pm
      Tony Oliva

      After waiting for 45 years after his retirement, the Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month is finally taking his rightful place as a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame.

      Before injuries cut short his Hall of Fame worthy career, Tony Oliva was one of the best hitters in baseball and combined with Hall of Famers Rod Carew and Harmen Killebrew to make the Minnesota Twins a perennial American League contender during the late 1960s.

      Discovered on the baseball fields of Cuba by a Minnesota Twin scout, Oliva came to the United States in 1961 and within three years the American League Rookie of the Year. There have been many great MLB players from Cuba, including a new generation of stars today, but it is hard to argue that there has been a better player from the island in MLB than Oliva.

      Read more »

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