Abstract

Dwight F. Davis is widely credited with having invented, or at least conceived, the original idea for the international tennis competition that bears his name, the Davis Cup. This paper aims to debunk this myth through comprehensive critical analysis of the period preceding Davis’s apparent epiphany in 1899. Previous national-team-based competitions are investigated, alongside key figures in American and British/Irish tennis, to demonstrate that numerous others had proposed the idea for an international team-based competition long before Davis and that Davis may have appropriated his idea from others with whom he came into contact. Davis’s wealthy background, political ambitions, and model-American image arguably helped smooth the process of his idea being officially accepted by the United States National Lawn Tennis Association, which likely saw in Davis a perfect “front-man” for American tennis at a time when the nation used sporting prowess to promote its identity, particularly in relation to the British, in international sporting competition.

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