At all levels of competition and recreation, most every player has found themselves feeling the bumps of the court and the recoil of their racquets and has needed a trainer during the tournament. Torrance’s Raul Dominguez is one of the most revered and successful athletic trainers in Southern California. In the industry since the 1980s, he has built a reputation as a true healer and caregiver to some of the top tennis players in the region.
Dominguez has a background as an athletic trainer and an emergency medical technician, and in recent years has been working as a massage therapist as well. His association with the USTA began 20 years ago, working at tennis events across the country and being invited to work at adult league events in the early 2000s. Dominguez was more of a recreational tennis player, but has always had an appreciation for the game. When he was a student at LMU in the 1980’s, Dominguez even used to work with former World No. 1, Tracy Austin.
“She was still a professional player at that time,” recalled Dominguez of the former US Open champion. “So, I always tease Tracy because she’s a massage client of mine now. Before she knew me, I was even getting ice and towels for players like her and Martina Navratilova. For some reason, I’ve always been around tennis in some way.”
The experience in tennis has led him to understand that tennis can be demanding of a trainer especially due to the structure of tournaments. “There’s more than one match in a given day,” explained Dominguez. “My job as a health care provider is to be available to go on court and provide pre-match and post-match treatment.”
Dominguez will often do anything from helping players stretch to taping and wrapping players, as well as following up with them through the course of the day to ensure that his athletes are taken care of. He has also been working at a sports medicine clinic in Rancho Palos Verdes for 35 years, and originally intended to just work a few events sporadically after he finished at the clinic.
However, a lot of Dominguez’s clients are so keen on his therapeutic services that he has had ample business with a lot of professional athletes. In tennis alone, Dominguez has worked with the likes of Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Frances Tiafoe. Dominguez has had experience with athletes at every level of tennis, and relishes in the challenge. “I’m like an auto mechanic,” said Dominguez. “I work with a lot of Fords, Chevys and Buicks, and I also work with Ferraris, Porsches, and Lamborghinis!”
He may be flooded with clients and constantly working at SoCal tennis events, but Dominguez is focused on providing good quality care to all his clients from junior and adult athletes to professionals. He knows that one day he might have to bring on more help to cater to all his tennis obligations, but with his massive network in medicine and tennis, he is certain that his clients are in good hands. More than anything, it’s clear that Dominguez is excited to continue working in tennis because of the enthusiasm around the sport.
“They’re always so excited to see me,” said Dominguez of his clients. “They just make a beeline to the table and say ‘Hi,’ just a lot of good camaraderie! I like the team-oriented focus and the good-natured attitude of all the athletes that come to these USTA events.”