Hall of Fame: Scott Davis (tennis)

Richard Dunn

Growing up in the 1970s as America's No. 1-ranked junior tennis

player in the boys 16s and 18s, Scott Davis was granted a few perks along

the way in a long, distinguished career.But nothing prepared the former

Grand Slam doubles champion for his initial experience on the U.S. Davis

Cup team under captain Tony Trabert.

There is no relation between Davis, the director of tennis at Newport

Beach Tennis Club, and the legendary former Harvard student, Dwight

Filley Davis, who donated the famous silver Cup in 1900 to launch a remarkable sports tradition when only the U.S. and the British Isles

competed for the trophy.

As a budding star, Scott Davis was thrown to the wolves, so to speak,

as a teenage phenom, filling in for John McEnroe in a 1980 Davis Cup tie.

Invited by Trabert, Davis was working out all week with the U.S. team

that included McEnroe, Peter Fleming and Vitas Gerulaitis.

But when McEnroe "put on such a crazy show in doubles," Davis said, "

... such an animated show ... the people got upset and we were protected

by riot police on site and escorted back to our hotel later that night."

With the tie already clinched after two days, Trabert wanted to avoid

any conflict for the dead rubbers on Sunday and decided it wasn't in the

team's best interest to send McEnroe back on the court. So the

17-year-old Stanford-bound Davis got the nod to replace him.

"Usually you don't (switch players in the lineup so abruptly), because

there are people who buy tickets and they want to see John McEnroe and

not some young guy named Scott Davis," said Davis, who only remembers

losing, 6-4, 7-5, to a tough Mexican opponent on difficult red clay and

8,000 feet above sea level.

"I had probably played on red clay one other time in my life," he

added. "I tried to stay back .. all I really remember is that Trabert

kept telling me to serve and volley. But, still, it was a great week. I

don't think I've ever played that much tennis in seven days."

A 1980 Palisades High graduate in Pacific Palisades, Davis played at

Stanford from 1981 through '83, then turned pro and made an immediate

splash, garnering ATP Tour Rookie of the Year honors in 1983, after

lowering his world singles ranking from about 152nd to 24th in a

six-month period.

In 1985, Davis touched the No. 11 spot on the ATP Tour computer

rankings and enjoyed victories over, among others, Stefan Edberg in the

semifinals at the inaugural Lipton Championships in Florida.

"Singles was the thing that was always my priority," Davis said.

"Obviously I had some good years and then some years when I was a little

off. Eventually, David (Pate) and I started playing really good doubles

in tournaments together, so my career started stemming more in doubles."

Davis and Pate won the Australian Open doubles title in 1991, lifting

them to No. 1 in the world rankings, where they lasted for about six

months before finishing the campaign No. 2 behind Australia's John

Fitzgerald and Sweden's Anders Jarryd.

"We were seeded No. 1 at Wimbledon, but unfortunately we didn't win

it," Davis said. "Fitzgerald and Jarryd really came on and had a

phenomenal year and ended up No. 1."

Davis, who lists his Australian Open doubles championship as his

favorite highlight, and Pate played together for about six years.

"A lot of doubles team bicker and don't really get along; they have a

professional contract when they get out there," Davis said. "But, for

David and I, (winning the Australian Open) was really emotional, because

we're real good friends on and off the court. We just really enjoyed that

moment ... I'd say he's still one of my closest friends."

Davis won three singles titles and 22 doubles championships in his

career, which lasted from 1983 to 1997.

Twice he played on the U.S. Davis Cup team -- the aforementioned 1980

tie, then again in 1991 with Pate in doubles for a semifinal tie against

Germany in Kansas City, Mo., a U.S. victory led by Jim Courier and Andre


"Yeah, they won despite our (losing doubles) effort," Davis said.

"Then (the U.S. team) went on to the finals and we lost to France. That's

the year Yannick Noah was a super hero."

Speaking of Noah, Davis will play the French star on opening day of

the Success Magazine Champions at Newport Beach Tennis Club May 9-13.

Davis, 38, will make his debut on the Success Magazine Tour, the men's

senior tennis circuit.

Davis, a regular in the Adoption Guild Tennis Tournament, will play

McEnroe on May 10 in the eight-player, round-robin event.

The latest honoree in the Daily Pilot Sports Hall of Fame, Davis lives

in Turtle Rock and is engaged to Dutch tennis player Jandrea Ouwendijk.

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