Today in History: Davis Cup established in 1900

Today in History: Davis Cup established in 1900

119 years ago today, the silver trophy known today as the Davis Cup is first put up for competition when American collegian Dwight Filley Davis challenges British tennis players to come across the Atlantic and compete against his Harvard team.

Davis, born in St. Louis, Missouri, won the intercollegiate tennis singles championship in 1899. In the summer of that year, he and his Harvard teammates traveled to the West Coast to play against some of California’s best players. Impressed by the enthusiasm with which spectators greeted the national competition, Davis decided to propose an international tennis event. He won the support of the U.S. National Lawn Tennis Association and personally spent $750 on the construction of an elegant silver trophy bowl, 13 inches high and 18 inches in diameter. In February 1900, Davis put the International Lawn Tennis Challenge Trophy up for competition.

Great Britain, regarded as the world’s leading tennis power, answered Davis’ challenge, and on August 8, 1900, three top British players came to the Longwood Cricket Club in Brookline, Massachusetts, to compete against Davis and his all-Harvard team.

Davis had devised a three-day format for the event that still exists today: two singles matches on the first and third days, and a doubles match on the second day. He was captain of the U.S. team and on August 8 received serve on the very first Davis Cup point, which he hit out. He ended up triumphing in the singles match, however, and the next day with Holcombe Ward defeated the British doubles team. Rain forced the cancellation of two of the singles matches, and the first Davis Cup ended with a 3-0 Harvard sweep.

Davis was famous for his powerful left-handed serve and concentrated on a risky net play strategy that won him brilliant victories and unexpected defeats. With Ward, he won the U.S. doubles title in 1900 and 1901, and he was ranked fourth nationally in 1902. That year, the British returned for a Davis Cup rematch in New York, and the star American doubles team succumbed to the ascendant Doherty brothers–Laurie and Reggie. The United States pulled ahead in singles, however, and kept the International Lawn Tennis Challenge Trophy with a 3-2 overall victory.

The next year, the Doherty brothers helped take the trophy back to England for the first time. In 1904, Belgium and France entered the Davis Cup competition, and soon after, Australia and New Zealand, whose players played collectively as Australasia. The trophy did not return to the U.S. until 1913 and then stayed only for a year before departing for Australasia.

After receiving a law degree, Dwight Davis returned to St. Louis and became involved in local politics. Beginning in 1911, he served as public parks commissioner and built the first municipal tennis courts in the United States. He fought in World War I and earned the Distinguished Service Cross for bravery. In 1920, he made an unsuccessful bid for the U.S. Senate but the next year traveled to Washington nonetheless as director of the War Finance Corporation. Beginning in 1923, he served as assistant secretary of war under President Calvin Coolidge and in 1925 was made secretary of war proper. In 1929, President Herbert Hoover appointed him governor-general of the Philippines, and he served in this post–which essentially made him the ruler of the Philippines–for the next four years.

Throughout his distinguished career as a statesman, Davis remained involved in tennis as both an avid recreational player and an administrator. In 1923, he served as president of the U.S. Lawn Tennis Association. When the International Lawn Tennis Challenge Trophy ran out of room for names, he donated a large silver tray to go with the bowl.

Today, the Davis Cup, as the International Lawn Tennis Challenge Trophy is commonly known, is the premier trophy of international team tennis. Each year, dozens of nations compete for the right to advance to the finals. Shortly before his death in 1945, David said of the growing prestige of the Davis Cup, “If I had known of its coming significance, it would have been cast in gold.”
Source: http://www.history.com.

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Today in History: National League of Baseball founded in 1876

Today in History: National League of Baseball founded in 1876

143 years ago today, the National League of Professional Baseball Clubs, commonly known as the National League (NL), was formed. The American League (AL) was established in 1901 and in 1903, the first World Series was held. The first official game of baseball in the United States took place in June 1846 in Hoboken, New Jersey. In 1869, the Cincinnati Red Stockings became America’s first professional baseball club. Two years later, the National Association of Professional Base Ball Players was established as the sport’s first “major league.” In 1876, Chicago businessman William Hulbert formed the National League of Professional Baseball Clubs to replace the National Association. The National League had eight original members: the Boston Red Stockings, Chicago White Stockings, Cincinnati Red Stockings, Hartford Dark Blues, Louisville Grays, Mutual of New York, Philadelphia Athletics and the St. Louis Brown Stockings. Source: history.com.

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Today in History: First Olympic Winter Games in Chamonix, France in 1924

Today in History: First Olympic Winter Games in Chamonix, France in 1924

The concept of Winter Olympic Games was first introduced in 1924. Following the 1920 Summer Olympics in Antwerp, Belgium, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Congress decided that France, host of the 1924 summer games, should conduct a separate event for winter sports that same year. The French spa town of Chamonix was chosen to host what was named the “International Winter Sports Week” – the event actually lasted 11 days. The original sports were alpine and cross country skiing, figure skating, ice hockey, Nordic combined, ski jumping and speed skating. In 1925, the IOC officially created separate Olympic Winter Games and the 1924 Games in Chamonix were retroactively designated as the first Winter Olympics.

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Today in History: Basketball was invented in 1891

Today in History: Basketball was invented in 1891

127 years ago today, the game of basketball was created by Dr. James Naismith in Springfield, Massachusetts. Naismith wrote the sport’s original 13 rules to create a game that could be played in YMCA gyms during the cold winter months. Initially, teams were made up of nine players attempting to toss a soccer ball into peach baskets secured to the balconies at the ends of a gymnasium. When a basket was made, the game was paused while a man with a ladder had to retrieve the ball. Following the first public matches in 1892, popularity of the new game spread quickly. The first intercollegiate match was played in 1895 and the first professional league was founded in 1898.  Nets did not replace the sport’s original peach baskets until 1905.

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Today in History: First International Soccer Match in 1872

Today in History: First International Soccer Match in 1872

146 years ago today, the world’s first official international soccer match took place. The match between England and Scotland was held at West of Scotland Cricket Club in Partick, Scotland. The game ended with a 0-0 draw.

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Today in History: First Olympic Games in Asia in 1964

Today in History: First Olympic Games in Asia in 1964

54 Years ago today, the 18th modern Olympic Games opened in Tokyo. It was the first time that the Games were hosted by an Asian country. Tokyo was originally scheduled to hold the Games in 1940 but after Japan’s invasion on China, the honor was passed on to Helsinki and the event was ultimately canceled because of World War II. The 1964 Games were the first to be telecast live internationally. The “Summer Games” were scheduled for mid-October to avoid both the typhoon season (September) as well as Tokyo’s mid-summer heat and humidity. 93 nations participated, 16 of which made their first Olympic appearance.

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Today in History: Max Schmeling born in 1905

113 years ago today, German boxing legend Maximillian Schmeling was born. As the European heavyweight boxing champion, Schmeling came to the USA in 1928 and quickly became a sensation when he won the world title after defeating Johnny Risko and Jack Sharkey in 1930. In 1936, Schmeling scored a major upset by defeating the invincible Joe Louis. Louis won the rematch in 1938. Both fights became worldwide cultural events in light of the fighters’ national associations. Schmeling and Louis became good friends after the war until Louis passed away in 1981. Schmeling died at age 99 in 2005. Long after World War II, it was revealed that Schmeling had risked his own life in November of 1938 during the Reichskristallnacht when he saved the lives of two young Jewish brothers. It is said that Schmeling never talked about his heroic act.

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