Coaches' Corner: Swinnen Says Stricker Should Take 'One Step At A Time'
Sven Swinnen still remembers the first time he watched Dominic Stricker play. The lefty, who was 14 at the time, visited the Swiss Tennis Academy in Biel, Switzerland. Not to put any pressure on the juniors training there with big dreams, the facility is located on Roger-Federer-Allee.
“He was hitting the ball already pretty clean. He had the ball nicely on his racquet already at a young age,” Swinnen told ATPTour.com. “Obviously maybe his footwork wasn’t the best yet. He still can improve on that today. But slowly it’s getting better and better.”
Stricker was just visiting for a couple days of practice at the country’s national training centre. Six years later he is 20 years old, and Swinnen is his full-time coach. The lefty is on the rise.
Stricker finished his 2022 season playing some of the best tennis of his career, winning a main-draw match at the ATP 250 in Antwerp and another at the ATP 500 in Basel, his home event. Then he shone at the Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals, defeating Jack Draper, Lorenzo Musetti and Chun-Hsin Tseng in round-robin play before falling in the semi-finals.
“We try to take one step at a time. Now obviously he’s close to the Top 100, so the next goal if you talk rankings-wise will be to get a spot in the Top 100 and try to keep it for some time,” Swinnen said of his charge, who is No. 118 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings. “Don’t get too caught up in trying to get points or think too much about points, try to keep working on the things you have to improve on court and then all the stuff will come automatically.”
Photo Credit: Peter Staples/ATP Tour
Swinnen is plenty familiar with young Swiss players with big prospects. The former University of Oregon student-athlete grew up with Roger Federer.
“We’ll always say a little bit the same to the young kids,” Swinnen said. “Everybody goes his own path, focus on that, focus on improving and it’s just great to have somebody like Roger that we have in Switzerland. That will also motivate them maybe to play.
“They get to know him, also. Dominic played a couple of times with him, so that was also good.”
In 2021, Stricker relayed to the media a story about how during their training together, Federer discussed the importance of the serve with his younger countryman. That shot has become one of Stricker’s biggest weapons.
According to Swinnen, it has been important to continue developing that strength.
“Sometimes you want to keep trying to improve the weaknesses, but I also like to put focus on his strengths. Keep improving his serve,” Swinnen said. “He’s serving already pretty good, that’s a big weapon of his, his serve, for his height. Keep improving on those and then there are plenty of things he can improve on.”
Judging by the end of 2022, fans will increasingly become familiar with that shot, too. In Milan, Stricker showed no fear of a big stage at the Allianz Cloud. Swinner added that opportunities like that will only help his player grow.
“Everybody’s dreaming about those stages, those big tournaments. That’s why you practise. That’s what all the young kids dream about, to play those big events,” Swinnen said. “Suddenly if you get closer, you really want to try to get there. I hope he keeps his focus, keeps practising hard and hopefully he can play more and more of those events.”