Ecuador did not participate in the Davis Cup in 1964, 1965 and 1966 for various reasons. Eduardo Zuleta had acquired many tennis commitments in the world and rarely returned to the country. However, the greatest impediment was that Miguel Olvera had suffered a loss of health, his lungs being affected, and his recovery had taken longer.
In December 1966, the tennis leadership held a session in which the return of Ecuador to the Davis Cup dispute was resolved. Blas Uscocovich, in March 1967, began the efforts to obtain financial support from the government of the day, chaired by Dr. Otto Arosemena.
Argentina 1 Ecuador 4
In May, it was our turn to play against Argentina, at the Buenos Aires Lawn Tennis Club. Fortunately, Olvera had already returned to tennis and was authorized by the doctors to participate in highly competitive tournaments. Guzmán was playing for Italy, where a cable was sent to him to return to the country to prepare. The National Tennis Commission decided to appoint Danilo Carrera Drouet as captain and president of the delegation. Argentina had great players of the time: Eduardo Soriano, Roberto Aubone and Julián Ganzábal.
Olvera’s presentation in Argentina was so recognized (victories over Aubone and Ganzábal, and in doubles) that the newspaper The clarin, on May 29, published: “It is said that Olvera abandoned tennis for three years, a pleurisy that took him away from the courts that period. It is a phenomenon, it has the oxygen of an ‘aquanaut’, it has the resistance of a ‘fakir’, it has the malleability of an ‘acrobat’. His passage through the courts of Buenos Aires Lawn Tennis leaves an image to copy”.
In the other group, the Americans had qualified for the final by defeating the Mexican team as visitors. The Americans were very worried about having to play in Ecuador because of the incidents they had in Mexico with the public. They wanted to change the headquarters to the United States.
Uscocovich received a call from Tommy Wright one day, who told him that the Americans were willing to pay up to $ 20,000 to change the headquarters to the US The tempting offer was rejected, because in our country, after the result of Buenos Aires, there was expectation.
The Ecuadorian leaders contacted the players so that, as soon as possible, they would appear for training. In Guayaquil Carrera had been confirmed as captain. Olvera was in the US, while Guzmán was in Spain participating in tournaments.
Ecuador 3 EE. UU. 2
The United States brought great players, including Arthur Ashe, who at that time was the number one racket in that country and sixth in the ranking of the world. Accompanying him was Cliff Richey, like the other singlist; and for the doubles game came the American champions Clark Graebner and Marty Riessen. Captain, George McKall.
The main court of the Pancho Segura stadium was removed and its clay, completely treated. As this was the first time that a final in the American zone had been held, Eduardo Guzmán, from Mexico, had been appointed as referee.
Ecuador’s feat of defeating the USA 3-2 transcended borders. Press agencies from all over the world wanted the similar surprise to be confirmed from our country.
It was subsequently played in the semifinal, representing America, against the powerful Spanish team in September 1967.
The headquarters set up by the Royal Spanish Federation was the Real Club de Tenis Barcelona (RCTB) competition court, in Pedralbes. He joined Pancho Segura as an advisor. Then it was made public that the Ecuadorian delegation was going to travel with some anticipation. On September 12, about ten days before the games started, there was the national team, made up of Olvera, Guzmán and Zuleta as players; Segura, who had promised to be the coach; and career as captain.
Of course, Spain was the great favorite, although with some reserve, because they did not rule out that Ecuador would give a new blow. The Iberian team had Manolo Santana as their number one racket, and Juan Gisbert and José Luis Arilla as players two and three, respectively.. The judge was Mats Hasselquist. The draw was held on September 29 in the halls of the Barcelona Provincial Council.
The day the series began, the news came from Guayaquil that 234,399 sucres had been collected in the campaign to obtain houses for Olvera and Guzmán. This novelty was well received in the tricolor delegation. The organizers of the crusade in the Buenos Aires city sent the new one to take advantage of the psychological effect that it was going to produce on the morale of our tennis players.
The category shown by Santana, former Wimbledon champion (1966) and who overwhelmed Guzmán in three sets (6-2, 6-1, 6-1) was very great. And after Gisbert-Olvera, the UPI agency titled: “A hard blow suffered in Spain by the team led by the famous Francisco Segura.” The host was superior and led 2-0 in the series. With the results of the first day, very few doubted that Spain would be the winner of the series.
On the day of the doubles match the last tricolor card was played. The Spanish couple was formed by Santana and Arilla, and the Ecuadorian by Guzmán and Olvera. The meeting was hotly contested. It was won by the Spanish couple (7-5, 6-8, 3-6, 9-7, 6-4). The four players were dismissed standing up and with handkerchiefs by the public.
With Spain victorious, the last day of competition was reached with the Olvera-Santana duel. Although the local was superior and won the match in three sets (6-3, 6-4, 6-1) there was a play that received one of the longest ovations in the RCTB. It was in the third set, in an action of several exchanges of blows. Two players faced off at the net until Olvera masterfully chased the ball close to the stands and, from a difficult spot, returned and won the point. What was witnessed led to intense applause, for more than 2 minutes, which was added by Santana himself.
Ecuador’s participation in the 1967 Davis Cup is perhaps the most representative, because it reached a semifinal of the World Group, according to the format with which it was played in those years. Although it was lost with the powerful Spain, that defeat was described as honorable. The presentation of our team confirmed to the world that Ecuador was an inexhaustible cradle of great tennis players, something that with the passing of time could be confirmed.
We are used to remembering great triumphs. It is important to remember the Ecuadorian performance of 1967. As the Argentine José Luis Borges wrote: “Sometimes losing is winning, because there are defeats that have a dignity that noisy victory does not deserve.” (OR)
We want to thank the author of this write-up for this awesome content
Mario Canessa Oneto: From when the Davis Cup made us dream of a final | Columnists | sports