Davis Cup, anyone?
By Mark Baker
Published: Nov 25, 2007 10:51:29AM
It’s three days after Thanksgiving and a month until Christmas, and you know what that means this time of year in Oregon, right?
In November? In the Northwest?
Yep. This year, anyway.
That’s because the Davis Cup final — the Super Bowl of tennis tournaments — comes to Portland’s Memorial Coliseum on Friday. Television sets all around the world will be tuned in to the Rose City event.
It’s the United States vs. Russia. And if you didn’t get tickets to the three-day event that begins Friday, well, too bad. They sold out in 30 minutes when they went on sale Oct. 15.
Memorial Coliseum holds just under 13,000 people, and the only option was to buy tickets for all three days.
Of course, you can watch it on television, if you have cable.
With that, here are 10 things — and assorted tidbits — you should know about the 2007 Davis Cup World Group Final:
1.Yes, Oregon, there really is a Davis Cup. And it’s big. It’s 3½feet tall and weighs 323 pounds, and if it hasn’t already arrived in Portland, it’s on its way from the Longwood Cricket Club in Brookline, Mass., where the first Davis Cup final was played in 1900 between the United States and the British Isles team, as part of a world tour during the past year. The silver cup, originally 14 pounds before more than a century’s worth of enhancements, is the world’s oldest sports trophy. Dwight Davis, the Harvard University student and member of the first U.S. Davis Cup team in 1900 who later went on to become President Calvin Coolidge’s secretary of war, paid for the cup that bears his name with about $1,000 of his own money. The cup has been on every continent in the world. It has sat, full of champagne, in Paris nightclubs; had Boris Yeltsin slurp vodka from it; been stolen in Peru; and languished in Melbourne bank vaults during both World War I and World War II.
2.The Davis Cup tournament was originally known as the International Lawn Tennis Challenge.
3.The Davis Cup final has not been played in the United States since 1992, when the Americans defeated Switzerland in Fort Worth, Texas. The United States hasn’t won a Davis Cup since beating the Russians in the 1995 final — its longest stretch without winning a cup final — at Olympic Stadium in Moscow. The United States has won more Davis Cups, 31, than any other nation. Australia is second with 28.
4.This year’s Davis Cup final is being played in Portland, the first-ever final for the Pacific Northwest, because the Rose City won the bid over Winston-Salem, N.C., Oklahoma City and San Diego, United States Tennis Association spokesman Chris Widmaier says. “We were looking for a chance to come back to Portland, and the Northwest is a hidden gem for tennis,” Widmaier says.
Portland held Davis Cup semi-final matches in 1981 and 1984. The USTA has little time to find a location whenever the United States advances to a final and is the host country, Widmaier says.
The United States defeated Sweden in September to advance. Logistically, this is a tough time to find an arena for an entire week, with most major arenas, such as the Rose Garden in Portland, dominated by NBA, NHL or college basketball teams.
5.You can watch the Davis Cup finals on TV in the Eugene-Springfield area if you have standard Comcast Cable (Versus, channel 32) or subscribe to the Tennis Channel (Comcast channel 410).
6.The only year a cup final was not played was in 1974, when India refused to compete against South Africa in protest of its apartheid policies. Thus, South Africa is the only nation to ever win a cup by forfeit, and has still never played a single Davis Cup finals match.
7.This year’s Davis Cup tournament began in February with 131 nations competing. Only 16 teams advance to the World Group playoffs in three zones, the American Zone, the Euro/African Zone and the Asia/Oceania Zone.
8.After the United States and Australia (59 titles combined), these nations have also won multiple Davis Cup titles: Great Britain (9), France (9), Sweden (7), Germany (3), Russia (2) and Spain (2).
Croatia, the Czech Republic, Italy and South Africa have each won one apiece.
Fifteen nations have hosted the cup final: United States (30), Australia (24), Great Britain (9), France (9), Sweden (6), Russia (3), New Zealand (2), Germany (2), Spain (2), Romania (1), Chile (1), the Czech Republic (1), West Germany (1), Italy (1) and Croatia (1).
9.This year’s U.S. Davis Cup team consists of Andy Roddick, James Blake and brothers Mike and Bob Bryan. The team is coached by Patrick McEnroe.
10. Speaking of McEnroes, Patrick’s brother, John McEnroe, is the greatest player in U.S. Davis Cup history with 41 singles match wins and 59 total. He helped lead the Americans to titles in 1978, 1979, 1981, 1982 and 1992.
Other all-time American greats in Davis Cup history include Davis himself, who led the United States to victory in that inaugural tournament of 1900; Bill Tilden; Bill Johnston; Bobby Riggs; Jack Kramer; Pancho Gonzales; Arthur Ashe; Stan Smith; Vitus Gerulaitis; Andre Agassi; and Pete Sampras, who led the United States to its last title in 1995.