Australia’s Dane Sweeny ready to light up Challenger Tour after ITF success

Sweeny had a breakthrough season winning a circuit-leading six titles in 2022 and he will now have a shot at reaching his maiden Challenger Tour final in Chennai. 

Published : Feb 18, 2023 12:51 IST , CHENNAI

Dane Sweeny in action.
Dane Sweeny in action. | Photo Credit: SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

Dane Sweeny in action. | Photo Credit: SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

Out of eight Australians who came for the ATP Challenger event in the city, two remain. One is Max Purcell, reigning Wimbledon men’s doubles champion. And the other is Dane Sweeny - a 5’7”, 21-year-old Queenslander with a mullet and biceps Pat Cash would be proud of.

“He (Purcell) got me pretty easily (last time). I need to get some revenge on him,” joked Sweeny, referring to his 5-7, 2-6 loss in Traralgon four years ago.

Humble background

Clay and Michelle Sweeny moved from Sydney in New South Wales to Sunshine Coast in Queensland when Dane, the youngest of their three kids, was a three-year-old.

“My dad’s a cleaner and my mum works for a hairdressing company. She works in the warehouse, distributing hair products and stuff. Simple jobs, don’t make heaps of money but definitely not poor. Just kind of middle class. Our family is very cohesive,” says Sweeny.

Sweeny picked up tennis after watching his brother Blake, 10 years older than him, play and being coached by their father. “Apparently, I’d be on the side of the court, crying, and then when I’d get a racquet put in my hand, I’d stop crying,” he remembers.


For the last eight years, Sweeny was travelling with a Tennis Australia coach and hence, the expenses were taken care of by the academy. Now, he wants to have his father as his coach and since Clay is not from the academy, Sweeny needs to take care of the funding himself.

“Getting wildcards into the Australian Open (in qualifying), that sets me up financially for most of the year. I’ve won a couple (four) of matches there in the last three years and made about 50 grand on average each time. That helps a lot,” mentions Sweeny.

“The prize money of Challengers has increased a bit. If I can keep my ranking where I can play Challengers, I might probably won’t be making much money, but I can at least get myself from place to place. If money does get lower, then I think that definitely would put a lot more pressure on me, but at this stage, it hasn’t played too much of a part.”

Lighting up ITF circuit, eyes on Challenger Tour success

Four years after making his senior ITF debut, Sweeny had a breakthrough season winning a circuit-leading six titles in 2022 and taking his ATP ranking from 497 to 249. 

When asked about his goal for this year, he said, “To try and translate that (success on ITF circuit) onto the Challenger Tour. I’ve struggled in the past to get some Challenger wins. After a week like this, it’s given me a lot of confidence. I don’t think I’m playing my best tennis either, so that’s giving me some extra confidence. Yeah, trying to win some Challenger titles this year and just keep the ranking going up and most of all, just trying to really enjoy it as much as I can.”

Sweeny will get his second shot at reaching his maiden Challenger Tour final on Saturday when he faces Purcell at the SDAT Stadium.

Interests outside tennis

When he is not on court, Sweeny likes to hang out with his friends at the beach. The experience in Chennai though was not a memorable one for him and his “best mate” Calum Puttergill in this regard. “I went to the beach. I was going to swim but then I asked someone because no one was in the water. When I asked why no one was swimming, one of the locals told me that you can get arrested if you did,” he said.

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