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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

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 →

Bogdanovic Set for Davis Cup Return 1

Posted on February 22, 2011 by Thomas Rooney

Alex Bogdanovic is competing for a spot on the English Davis Cup team.

British number six Alex Bogdanovic will compete for one of two singles spots in the Great British Davis Cup team  for the match against Tunisia next month. The Great Britain squad are slight tennis betting favorites after winning their last tie.

Bogdanovic has been absent from the team since 2008, but with Andy Murray declaring himself unavailable for the tie, he will compete against James Ward and Jamie Baker for a spot on the squad. The doubles specialists Colin Fleming and Jamie Murray complete the five-man squad for the tie in Bolton, which starts on the 4th March.

Having been dropped from the team at the start of 2009 after not winning a singles rubber since 2003, he declared himself unavailable later that year to concentrate on improving his world ranking. The world number 378 has seemingly had a change of heart as he contends for a spot on the team for the Europe/Africa zone group II. Read the rest of this entry →

Is the State Of GB Tennis To Blame For Andy Murray’s Loss of Confidence? 2

Posted on March 28, 2010 by Marianne Bevis
Sony Ericsson Open - Day 2

It’s been a shameful few weeks for British tennis.

Since the Davis Cup defeat by Lithuania, barely a day has passed without one media outlet or another revealing a new twist in the story.

First, it was the ritual analysis of the work of the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA). 
Before long, John Lloyd resigned from the worst job in tennis, and began to cast his vitriol in assorted directions.

Eventually, attention turned to Roger Draper, the chief executive of the LTA since 2006, who has commissioned an internal review following the Lithuania tie.

Draper himself also had some explaining to do to a group of MPs and peers chaired by Baroness Billingham. He was been summoned to explain how the LTA spends the £27 million of public funding it receives from Sport England for grass-roots projects.

But never far away from the war of words that breaks out after each Davis Cup tie is the name of Andy Murray.

One moment he is pilloried for deserting the Davis Cup team in its hour of need, and the next he is being consulted on what needs to happen to turn things around.

Well it’s time to call a halt and face a few home truths. The mire in which British tennis finds itself is not of Murray’s making. Indeed, it might be argued that, without his presence, this furore would all have come to a head far sooner.

Who is Responsible for Great Britain's Poor Performance in Davis Cup?

  • The Lawn Tennis Association (60%, 3 Votes)
  • Team Manager John Lloyd (20%, 1 Votes)
  • Andy Murray (20%, 1 Votes)
  • British Snobbery (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 5

Loading ... Loading ...

Read the rest of this entry →

David Ferrer Takes 24-carat Tennis From Latin American to Davis Cup Victory 5

Posted on March 09, 2010 by Marianne Bevis
2010 Australian Open - Day 4

Everything about the climax of the tennis’s “Golden Swing” glowed.

It was played out in the Mexican heat, under brilliant floodlights, on the deepest of orange backgrounds.

It brought together two golden-skinned Spaniards in their second final in six days.

And it delivered up a treasure chest of outstanding tennis.

But start with the protagonists: David Ferrer and Juan Carlos Ferrero.

Not just compatriots: They both come from the Valencia region of Spain.

Not just Davis Cup team mates, but business partners: They jointly back the newly-branded Valencia 500 tournament that moved to the stunning Agora building in 2009.

Not only two of Spain’s most successful tennis players: They are close friends who play and practise together.

These numerous bonds made for not one but two helpings of fast-moving, sporting, and intense tennis on the clay of Latin America in the final days of February.

For drama, the match could not have promised more. These are two men who have been around the block a few times, have seen their fortunes ebb and flow, but have both expressed their desire to get back to the top 10.

Ferrero, who turned 30 just days before winning the Brazil Open three weeks ago, has reached an ATP final in every year since 1999. He won titles every year between 1999 and 2003, including four Masters and the French Open, which took him briefly to No 1 in the world. It was another six years before he claimed his next title: Casablanca last year.

Now, coming into this closer of the “Golden Swing,” he could boast not one new title but two in consecutive weeks. And here he was, aiming to add a third.

Juan Carlos Ferrero and David Ferrer

Ferrero has worked hard on his fitness and stamina off court in order to taste success on court again. It has reaped riches. From a ranking of 115 during that Casablanca tournament, he has now reached his highest ranking—14—since October 2004.

Then there is the back story for Ferrer.

He is two weeks shy of his 28th birthday, and has reached an ATP final in every year since 2002, bar one. What he has lacked in Ferrero’s shot-making flair he has made up for in terrier-like determination.

Hard-working, a power-pack of muscle and energy, he came closest to touching pure gold in the finals of the Masters Cup of 2007. His last ATP title was back in the spring of 2008, and he’s won only one ATP 500 title in his career.

Ferrer’s main victories in 2009 were in Davis Cup ties: He won all six matches he played. But since last spring, aside from those ties, he has experienced a real slump in what seemed to be a devastating loss of confidence. Now, though, he’s almost back to his No 16 ranking of a year ago—just two short of Ferrero.

The positive side to his narrative is that, with an upturn in form, he can rake in the points throughout this year.

Their first meeting was in Bueno Aires. Read the rest of this entry →

The Oloroso of Tennis: The Maturing of the “Fragrant” Fernando Verdasco 2

Posted on February 24, 2010 by Marianne Bevis
2009 Australian Open: Day 12

Spanish sherry is a sorely undervalued wine. Tainted by associations with the syrupy brown tipple of yesteryear, its variety, delicacy, subtlety and vitality is one of the revelations of travels through Spain.

And just as these glorious wines represent the diverse and sunny personality of that country, so do their tennis players. One look at Spain’s all-conquering Davis Cup squad, and you are spoilt for choice.

The dry, crisp, light fino might be Tommy Robredo. The bold salty tang of a manzanilla could sum up Feliciano Lopez. The nutty golden amber of an amontillado is Rafael Nadal. But the most perfect analogy is between the dark, intense oloroso and Fernando Verdasco.

There are plenty of the female persuasion who would nod at the suitability of the word for the most sultry of athletes: Oloroso is Spanish for “fragrant.”

But its appropriateness is more than skin deep. It has just as much to do with how this richest of sherries is produced. The long and unique maturing process makes this mellifluous wine suit Verdasco perfectly.

The deeply flavoured dry oloroso ages slowly, becoming darker and stronger as it matures to coppery bronze. What’s more, its natural sugars convert, through long fermentation, to the sherry family’s highest alcohol content.

So in colour, strength, and development, Verdasco emulates the finest oloroso. He is a man and a tennis player who seems to have grown more slowly and matured more steadily than the rest. Read the rest of this entry →

Great Men of Tennis: Dwight Davis; Gerald Ford of the Tennis World 10

Posted on February 10, 2010 by Claudia Celestial Girl

A new series for a new year.  In a companion series to ‘Queens of the Court,’ ‘Great Men of Tennis’ takes a look at the men who have left an indelible mark on tennis.  The series begins among the foundations of our modern game, with the man who invented aspects of the serve, and set the stage for Davis Cup competition: Dwight Davis.

In honor of Dwight Davis, this article is posted on the 110th anniversary of the first Davis Cup – held Feb 9, 1900.

The Davis Cup has been an important part of tennis history for 110 years.

The Davis Cup has been an important part of tennis history for 110 years.

Let’s see, Secretary of War? Or famous tennis star?  Hmmm … Which career path to choose?  How about both?!

Not many tennis stars go to college.  John McEnroe, who is famously known for attending Stanford, really only attended the university for a single semester.  John Isner, a current tennis star, is the only one in the top 50 to obtain a degree (at the University of Georgia) before starting his ATP career this year.

Like John Isner, Dwight Davis was a collegiate tennis singles champion.  He played for Harvard University in 1899. The closest he came to a singles title was runner up in the US Championships in 1898.  A lefty, Davis made a name for himself in doubles.  While at Harvard he also went out for baseball and played on the sophomore football team.

Quite a few US politicians were collegiate, or even professional athletes, before embarking on a life of public service, among them: President Gerald R. Ford, and Senator Jack Kemp.  Dwight Davis can be counted among these public figures.  Davis would serve the U.S. as secretary of war from 1925-1929 under President Calvin Coolidge.

In spite of his dearth of singles titles, Davis serves as a keystone for our ‘Great Man of Tennis,’ because Davis, like Frenchman Rene LaCoste 30 years later, was not only a winner but also a technical innovator, and became a key mover and creator in the sport.

Like many tennis stars of his day, Davis was from an upper class family, one of the founding families in St. Louis Missouri.  At the turn of the twentieth century, tennis was played in society clubs, and also in the street.  To distinguish its form of tennis from that in the street, club tennis was known as ‘Lawn Tennis.’  An iconoclastic visual of the times comes from the musical ‘Ragtime,’ which depicts turn-of the century upper-class types in the opening vignette as ‘fellows with tennis balls’ in 1902, in New Rochelle New York; straw hats, slacks, afternoon tea, and a spot of tennis. Read the rest of this entry →

  • Vintage Athlete of the Month

    • Rusty Staub: A Man For All Ages
      April 8, 2024 | 1:26 pm
      Rusty Staub

      The Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month is a former major league baseball player who came into the game as a teenager and stayed until he was in his 40s. In between, Rusty Staub put up a solid career that was primarily spent on expansion or rebuilding teams.

      Originally signed by the Colt .45s at age 17, he made his major league debut as a 19-year old rookie and became only the second player in the modern era to play in more than 150 games as a teenager.

      Though he hit only .224 splitting time between first base and rightfield, Staub did start building a foundation that would turn him into an All-Star by 1967 when he finished fifth in the league with a .333 batting average.

      Read more »

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