Meet The Pros – Dave Fleming
Dave Fleming loves pickleball, loves a good laugh and loves his family! He’s an all-around good guy. Enjoy!
Can you list for us your major wins so we can correctly introduce you to our readers?
2018 – Cedar Park Championships Mixed Doubles with Helen Wilhelm
2018 – US Open 35+ Men’s Doubles with Adam Stone – Gold, 50+ Mixed Doubles with Helen Wilhelm – Bronze
2018 – USAPA Mid-South Regional 5.0 50+ Gold in Singles and Men’s Doubles with Scott Baker
2017 – USAPA National Championships 4.5 50+ Men’s Doubles Gold
What paddle do you play with and why?
I currently use the Engage Elite Pro, but I’m testing several others to find the perfect combination of power and control… more to come.
What is your pickleball story? How were you introduced to pickleball?
In December of 2016, a friend on my 5.0 tennis team invited me to play pickleball at his church gym where his wife is in charge of the rec programs. So I show up and laughter ensues. We serve and volley. We charge the net. And then we started learning the rules. And the strategy. And we entered tournaments. And it was (and is) glorious.
My tennis rackets have not left the bag since September—and I love tennis. But, I am all-in on playing pickleball.
What is your preference – playing indoors or outdoors?
Outdoors for sure. Having played tennis since I was 5, I am used to and enjoy the challenges that the elements present.
Do you like singles or doubles better? Why?
Doubles. The camaraderie of having 4 people on the court, competing but also laughing, is the best. I love the strategy required to complement my partner’s game. And the thrill of winning a big match with a partner is tremendous. My 2018 US Open experience is why I love doubles—I played with 3 awesome players (Steve Dawson, Adam Stone and Helen Wilhelm) against some extraordinary competition, battling for hours each day, and it was truly the best pickleball can be.
What is your favorite place to play? Why?
I love playing anywhere there is good competition and always pack my paddle when I travel. If I had to choose just one, it would be the Bobby Riggs tennis and paddle center which is owned and operated by two phenomenal people and pickleball players: Steve and Jennifer Dawson.
The competition is great, the location is amazing, and after a day of great pickleball, it’s a short drive down the hill for a stunning and colorful California sunset. I’m going back to play two tournaments there this summer.
What is your secret sauce? Any tips for players?
My two-handed backhand. Very few guys use it. I can blast drives, hit cut dinks with extreme spin, and disguise volleys with both placement and pace. Tip: Don’t listen to people who say you can’t play a certain way or can’t use a certain shot in pickleball. Pickleball is great because people come to it from a variety of different backgrounds—mold your game to use your strengths, no matter where they come from.
What is your day job?
I run the Dallas office of the global ad agency We Are Alexander. I was also voted the number 2 corporate comedian in the US by CBSNews.com—I perform an 80-minute comedic one man show about corporate America called Man vs. Office.
How many hours a week do you play? How do you make time to play?
I try to get to 15, with one outing focused solely on drills. It’s a priority in my schedule and always a great workout.
Any lucky rituals before a big tournament?
I am known for always wearing black and gold (I am a huge, diehard fan of the Steelers, Penguins and Pirates). I always hold the same side of the grip, so I have 4 dots on the paddle face, representing my family, that are always face up. I also crank “Wanted Dead or Alive” by Bon Jovi before the first match of every day.
Do you have any pickleball goals you would like to share?
Keep improving and adding new shots to my arsenal. Play with and against the best players in the world on a consistent basis across the country. Grow the game at all levels here in Dallas and wherever else I can.
Anything else you would like to share about your experience being one of the best pickleball players in the world?
Truly anything is possible if you are passionate about it. I hope you can feel the love I have for this sport through these words and answers. I will never stop learning. I encourage everybody at all levels to embrace a weekly session where you only do drills. Take a goal to the court every time you play a rec match. And never stop laughing. That’s what makes this game so great. Thank you very much for the chance to share my pickleball story.