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History of the Davis Cup

by rod on July 15, 2008

The Davis Cup has long been held as one of the finest events a tennis player can be involved with because it is at a level above the individual. It is the pride of the country, the team and the passion for the game. In 1900, when US player Dwight Davis first donated the trophy and gave his name to a tennis challenge between countries, who would have guessed from the handful of participants back then that the Davis Cup would be hotly contested by literally dozens of countries, so many in fact that the competition was forced into zones just like the World Cup soccer event. To be sure, Australia has done well over the years in the Davis Cup and for this initial stage it is only right to begin in 1905 when the very first Australians and New Zealanders were treading a path to Wimbledon and our first challenge for the Davis Cup. The following shot comes from the book by Len Richardson “Anthony Wilding – A Sporting Life’ kindly supplied from a supporter Virginia Crawford in New Zealand.


After the formation of the National Lawn Tennis associations in both countries it was agreed that an Australasian team could compete and with Norman Brookes, Alf Dunlop and Tony Wilding (NZ). They were defeated in the final round by USA who then lost to the British Isles 5-0. For the British Isles this was a golden era for tennis with the domination by the two Doherty brothers, Reg and Laurie. In 1906 the Australasian team lost to the USA 3-2 with the team of Wilding and L.O.S. Poidevin but 1907 would be different. At this time Wilding and Brookes were finding success. 1906 saw Wilding win the second Australian Championship and Brookes actually won the Wimbledon singles in 1907, the first Australian to do so and also the doubles title with Wilding. In the early Davis Cup challenges, the winning team from the previous year only played the final ‘Challenge Round’ match against the best team from all the challenging countries. The British Isles had been dominant since 1903, however in 1907 Australasia defeated the USA 3-2 in the final round and then went on to the Challenge Round to defeat the British Isles 3-2 in two very hard fought matches.

1907 Wimb Doubles final brookes-wilding v Behr Wright

To the victors came glory via public recognition and the opportunity to defend the cup on home soil. In the 1908 Challenge Round, Australasia played the USA in Melbourne at the then named Warehouseman’s grounds (Albert Ground- St Kilda Rd). Once again Brookes and Wilding teamed against American’s B.C. Wright and F.B. Alexander in another close 3-2 affair in front of a 5000 plus gallery. 1908 davis cup

This is one of the only team shots of the 1911 team which played the USA in New Zealand. Anthony Wilding was busy in Europe and elected not to play. Left to right H.Rice, Rod Heath, Alf Dunlop & Norman Brookes.



This photo appears in the book “Lawn Tennis in Australasia” by Austral (R.Kidston)

Brookes Dunlop v Heath Rice NZ 1911 Austral

The actual Davis Cup which belongs to the Alf Dunlop family.



Here is a shot of the 1914 Davis Cup team,  from Len Richardson’s book about Wilding

1914 dc team brookes wildinga2

The complete 1914 Team with Alf Dunlop and Stanley Doust

wilding,brookes,dunlop., doust 1914

The 1919 team with fellow Australians.  Back R.V.Thomas, Gerald Patterson, Randolph Lycett, Stanley Doust, Norman Brookes and Pat O’Hara Wood Photo courtesy of Australian War Memorial ID D00773

R. V. Thomas G. L. Patterson Randolph Lycett Front row S. N. Doust Norman E. Brookes Captain P. O'Hara.Wood

The 1923 Team with J.B.Hawkes, Ian McInnes, J.O. Anderson and R. Schlesinger

Davis Cup 1923 Hawke McInnes Anderson Schlesinger

The 1934 Davis Cup Team Don Turnbull, Adrian Quist, Jack Crawford, Viv McGrath

complete shot 1934 Davis Cup Team in UK

The 1938 Team Adrian Quist, Harry Hopman, Len Schwartz and John Bromwich

Australian Davis CupTeam 1938aa

The 1939 Davis Cup team which won in the USA Adrian Quist, Viv McGrath, Jack Crawford and captain Cliff Sproule

world tennis 1960 1939 dc teamaa

The 1946 Davis Cup team John Bromwich, Geoff Brown, Dinny Pails and Colin Long Photo courtesy of Leski Auctions.

1946davis cup team leski

1947 Team , Colin Long, Dinny Pails, JohnBromwich and Geoff Brown

off ebay 1947 davis cup meeting a USA player

Harry Hopman and Australia were very lucky to bring on the talents of Frank Sedgman and Ken MacGregor in the 1950′s George Worthington, Ken, Frank, Harry, John Bromwich

1950 Davis Cup team

Good fortune continued through most of the 1950′s and 1960′s

davis cup 50 51002

davis cup 52 53001

A very nice line up shot of Davis Cup players up to the 1970′s

Davis Cup Greats

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