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
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.