Czechoslovakia has always been a country of tennis. This is how the Czechoslovak team looked like when it won the 1980 Davis Cup:
You see Tomáš Šmíd of Pilsen, Ivan Lendl, Pavel Složil, and Jan Kodeš (only the former two players played the 5 final matches against Italy; none of the four players was Slovak – there have been no quota). This picture shows some funny fashion 32 years ago – in this case, it also combines some ultrashort shorts with a communist military-style suit decorated by our double-tailed lion "improved" by a communist star above his head.
Tennis has been a path for people to travel across the world and live in a Western lifestyle. Lots of families made immense investments for their children to become top tennis players – and sources of money and freedom – and most of these investments were lost, of course. The sport was tolerated by the communist regime but maybe they made a mistake, given the negative publicity they won by all those tennis players who emigrated to the U.S., especially Ivan Lendl and Martina Navrátilová. Incidentally, Lendl left our homeland after some politically correct communist assholes criticized him and fined him in 1983 for his participation in a tournament held in a South African bantustan.
When it comes to the female counterpart of the Davis Cup, the Fed Cup, our score seems much stronger. Czechoslovak or Czech (since 1993) women won it in 1975, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1988, 2011, and... 2012. Yes, weeks ago, Ms Petra Kvitová, Ms Lucie Šafářová together with the duo Ms Andrea Hlaváčková (daughter of the Pilsner Urquell brewmaster-in-chief) and Lucie Hrádecká defended the 2011 Czech Fed Cup in the final game against Serbia.
It was up to men to show – in the 100th Davis Cup – that men aren't discriminated against in our homeland. So Mr Tomáš Berdych and Mr Radek Štěpánek played the five games against the 2011 Fed Cup defenders, Spain, and Radek Štěpánek just decided about the fate of the salad bowl in a dramatic fifth match against Nicolás Almagro. And our guy just played wonderfully, despite his being well below Mr Almagro at the ladder. I made an informal bet that Mr Štěpánek would win the cup for us.
Berdych, the world's #6, is on the left, Štěpánek is on the right. Lukáš Rosol and Ivan Minář were members of the team, too.
After 22 years, a country finally managed to grab both the Fed Cup and the Davis Cup (previously the U.S. in 1990). And as the updated title reminds us, Czechia's Berdych+Kvitová also won the mixed 2012 Hopman Cup (previous victories 1989, 1994, plus Slovakia's 1998, 2005, and 2009). Of course, Czechia is the only nation that has won the three cups on the same year because the Hopman Cup only began in 1989. The consumption of alcoholic beverages in the Czech Republic may jump again tonight – above the level that already makes us the leaders of the world in this additional sport, anyway. ;-)
Because I am already boasting about athletes I root for, I can't forget to mention that both "key" sports in Czechia, soccer and ice-hockey, have sensible leaders of the extraleague right now (at least before the today's ice-hockey matches). HC Škoda Pilsen is the current leader in ice-hockey and Viktoria Pilsen 1929 is the current leader of the Gambrinus [another beer from Pilsen] soccer league. In both of these teams, remarkable veterans close to 40 years of age play a rather essential role (I mean Martin Straka and Pavel Horváth in particular).