Meet The Pros: Steve Kennedy

Meet The Pros – Steve Kennedy

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Steve Kennedy has achieved the perfect balance between tennis and pickleball. He is passing it on to his younger tennis students as well. Way to go, Steve! Enjoy!

Can you list for us your major wins so we can correctly introduce you to our readers?

I’m new to pickleball tournaments and have been fortunate to medal in each one I’ve played last year:
2016 USA Masters Games – Doubles Gold with Steve Rose and Mixed Doubles Silver with Lucy Kitcher
2016 Georgia Mountain Pickleball Fall Classic – Silver with Joe DiMauro
2016 Kentucky Senior Games – Singles Gold and Doubles Gold with Jeff Carlson
2016 Geezer Meister – Doubles Silver with Scott Tingley
2016 USAPA Nationals – Singles Silver

What paddle do you play with and why?

I play with the Engage Encore Pro paddle with added head weight. I love the touch, control and power that the Engage paddle gives me. Jodi and Robert Elliott are great to work with and helped me to find the perfect paddle for my game.

What’s your pickleball story? How were you introduced to pickleball?

I discovered pickleball totally by accident while sitting on the soccer field watching my son practice in Davie, Florida. I kept hearing a loud popping noise and walked over to investigate. When I realized that pop was the sound of the pickleball hitting the paddle, I was intrigued. I was immediately offered a wooden paddle by a super friendly group of people and I was hooked.

What’s your preference – playing indoor or outdoor?

Living in Florida allows me to play outdoors all year long but I enjoy playing indoor as well. It’s nice to mix it up.

Do you like singles or doubles better? Why?

I love the strategy and teamwork associated with doubles. Because of my prior professional tennis career, I also like singles because I’m guaranteed to get every ball, where in doubles, there are times I rarely see one.  In singles it’s all up to me…all of the mistakes are mine and so are the winners.

What’s your favorite place to play? Why?

Davie, Florida is my pickleball home. It’s where I discovered the game and it’s where I play with the greatest people in the whole world. I’d like to give a shout out to every one of them but I have too many pickleball friends to list. I’ll just say that Davie Pickleball people are the best and if you’re in Florida we’d love to have you join us.

Steve Kennedy with some of his tennis summer camp kids hitting pickleballs — with George English Tennis Camp, Engage pickleball and Steve Kennedy Pickleball.

Steve Kennedy with some of his tennis summer camp kids hitting pickleballs — with George English Tennis Camp, Engage pickleball and Steve Kennedy Pickleball.

What’s your secret sauce? Any tips for players?

I’m a power player so I have to say that it’s OK to play with power, however, you must develop a proficient dink game and be able to turn on your finesse at any moment. I like to be unpredictable and switch up my game at unexpected times, keeping my opponent confused.  My tips are simple:
     Don’t let your game become predictable.
    Drill, drill, drill and spend 80% of your practice time on your dink game.

Gold with partner Neil Friedenberg, Englewood CA

Gold with partner Neil Friedenberg, Englewood CA

What’s your day job?

I’ve been teaching tennis at Jimmy Evert Tennis Center in Fort Lauderdale for 26 years. I’m also an IPTPA-certified pickleball instructor which allows me to share the sport that I love by teaching others to play. I love both tennis and pickleball, but pickleball is new and exciting and the rapid growth is exciting as well. I encourage all of my tennis clients to try pickleball. It’s great to have a variety of physical activities to choose from and pickleball is conducive to fun for the whole family.

How many hours a week do you play? How do you make time to play?

I typically play 4 or 5 days a week for about 2 hours a day. I live a couple of miles from Davie Pickleball so I hop on my bike or my scooter and head over late afternoon. My wife loves to play and travel with me which makes my pickleball life a lot easier!

Any lucky rituals before a big tournament?

We all feel the nerves before a big tournament. I try to just focus on having fun and relaxing. I do depend on a secret holistic spray for nerves given to me by my good friend Dan, and I chew gum, lots of gum, before I go on the court.

Do you have any pickleball goals you’d like to share?

My goal is to continue to love playing pickleball in the future as much as I love it today while introducing the sport to as many people as I can.

Steve Kennedy and Charles Rose win Gold in Men's Doubles, USA Masters Games

Steve Kennedy and Charles Rose win Gold in Men’s Doubles, USA Masters Games

Anything else you’d like to share about your experience being one of the best pickleball players in the world?

Wow, really, one of the best in the world? Thanks for that compliment! I’m so excited about playing pickleball because I have so much more to learn and I feel that I can continue to work hard and get so much better. I’m blessed to have the opportunity to play and train with some of the very best players in the world here in Florida. I also have a group of South Florida Pickleball Club training partners here in Davie who spend a lot of time with me playing and drilling. They give me an unbelievable amount of support in practice and at tournaments. I owe a lot of my success to the people who have helped me with my game by just spending time with me on the court. Again, too many people to list but each of you know exactly who you are, so THANK YOU!

Meet The Pros: Cammy Ward

Meet The Pros – Cammy Ward

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Cammy is a professional tennis instructor who happens to love pickleball, and she has some advice to all tennis players – it can improve your tennis game! Enjoy!

Can you list us your major wins? 
2016 USAPA Nationals 35+ Doubles – Gold 
2016 USAPA Nationals 35+ Women’s Singles- Gold 
2016 USAPA Nationals 35+ Mixed Doubles – Silver
2016 USAPA So. Cal Summer Classic Women’s Doubles Open –  Bronze
2016 USAPA So. Cal Summer Classic Women’s 35+ Doubles –  Silver
2016 USAPA So. Cal Summer Classic Mixed Doubles Open – Bronze 

 What paddle do you play with and why?
I play with the Engage Encore Pro Paddle. I like this paddle because of its power and control. I get good feel off the ball too. 

What’s your pickleball story? How were you introduced to pickleball?
I was introduced to pickleball little over a year and half ago by my tennis friends. They kept saying come try pickleball, you’ll love it. I’m thinking, “What the heck is pickleball?!” One night I went over to Bobby Riggs with my friends, Steve and Jen Dawson, and they started dinking with me and telling me all these crazy rules about pickleball. I thought, There’s no way I can think about hitting the ball, dinking the ball, 2 bounce rule, understanding the score! And why am I saying 3 numbers when I’m calling the score? This is way too much for my brain to process.” Well, me being competitive, I instantly got hooked within half a dozen times of playing. I started to understand all those crazy rules of pickleball and from then on, I have entered pickleball tournaments and am just having a blast.

What’s your preference – playing indoor or outdoor?
I live in San Diego, so outdoor pickleball is my choice.

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Cammy Ward at the So Cal Classic

Do you like singles or doubles better? Why?
I have played both singles and doubles, mostly doubles though. I like singles. The only problem is it’s too hard on my body. So I stick to doubles; less court to cover and you have your friend next to you.

What’s your favorite place to play? Why?
I honestly have not played too much outside of California, except for the USAPA Nationals in Arizona and Tournament Of Champions in Utah. If I had to pick a favorite place to play, its Bobby Riggs in Encinitas, California.

What’s your secret sauce? Any tips for players?
My secret sauce is this homemade sauce I have for my BBQ Ribs!!!

What’s your day job?
For my day job, I teach tennis at La Costa Resort in Carlsbad, CA.

How many hours a week do you play? How do you make time to play?
I play pickleball maybe 2 times week. It kind of depends on my teaching day. After standing out on a hard court for 6 hours hitting tennis balls, sometimes I just can’t get my body to go play pickleball. I would rather hang with my dogs and a cold beer. Saturdays or Sundays I’m off, so if I’m going to play pickleball, those would be the days.

cammy-ward-action-shotAny lucky rituals before a big tournament?
No, I don’t have any lucky rituals before a tournament. I just go out and play and whatever happens, happens. I’m there mostly to have FUN!

Do you have any pickleball goals you’d like to share?
Honestly, pickleball is just another game for me.  I am out there to have fun when I am playing.  This game is not my day job, it’s not going to pay my bills. I don’t set goals, I go out and play and the team that wins is the better team that day.

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Anything else you’d like to share about your experience being one of the best pickleball players in the world?
The one thing I constantly hear from tennis players who have also played pickleball is that pickleball is so much more social than tennis. This is what I love about the game!  Pickleball is such a fun game to play, and its the only game where you can get 16 people playing on only one tennis court! You can play 3 hours with people you have never met and next thing you know, you are exchanging phone numbers and having a cold beer with them. Very Cool!
One more thing, I am always hearing from tennis players who have never tried pickleball that it’s going to hurt my tennis game. This is SO not the case. To all tennis players out there, please try pickleball. If you are a doubles player in tennis, pickleball will help with your touch, reflexes, strategy and placement in tennis.

Meet The Pros: Steve Paranto

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Meet The Pros – Steve Paranto

Steve Paranto has been a mover and a shaker in the world of pickleball since the 1970s. He loves this game and shows no signs of slowing down in his dedication to pickleball. Enjoy!

Can you list for us your major wins so we can correctly introduce you to our readers?

I placed 2nd in both singles and doubles in the tournament billed as the world’s first Pickleball Championship in 1976 at Southcenter Athletic Club, which is very memorable for being so long ago.  
My first major gold medal would have been around 1984 or ’85 with my men’s doubles partner Richard Skevington. It was one of the first USAPA Doubles Championships held in Tacoma, Washington.

I have also won:
Four-time Senior Singles Shampion at the Huntsman World Senior Games
Three-time National Senior Men’s Doubles Champions with my Partner Randy Bither
Indoor Senior Mixed Champions at the National Indoor Tournament with Sheila Schooner
2012 Men’s Open Doubles Champion with Randy Bither beating Enrique Ruiz and Don Paschal in the final. (This was only a few months after they had just won the open division at Nationals.)
2013  and  2015 Men’s Open Doubles Champion in Bend playing with Wes Gabrielsen
Numerous senior titles in singles, doubles and mixed doubles in Oregon, Washington and Idaho

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World’s First Composite paddle and 3 generations of Paranto pickleball enthusiasts!

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Summit Graphite Paddle

What paddle do you play with and why?

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Magnum Graphite Stealth Paddle

I’ve been playing with Onix paddles for tree years now. My favorite paddle is one I actually designed for Onix, the Summit. It has great reach, control and a fair amount of power. There are so many great paddle choices today with so many quality companies getting involved in the sport. I’ll always have a soft spot for Pro-Lite because my dad started that company back in ‘84. It was the first composite paddle, and really all of today’s paddles are basically a copy of the Pro-Lite composite paddle. I actually designed the Magnum Series paddle back in the mid-eighties. The Magnum Graphite Stealth Burst is still being used by Wes Gabrielsen today.  

What’s your pickleball story? How were you introduced to pickleball?

I was first introduced my freshman year at Green River Community College (GRCC) back in the fall of 1974. It was a popular intramural sport at the college and also taught as a physical education class. All of the tennis players from GRCC loved playing the game. I played in every tournament the college offered. I still have pickleball trophies from as far back as 1974! I have also helped teach the PE pickleball classes at GRCC, so I’ve now been involved in playing and teaching Pickleball for nearly 43 years!

What’s your preference – playing indoor or outdoor?

Since we have so much rain most of the year in the Northwest, most of my tournament and recreational play has been indoors. I love both, but I am probably a better indoor player than I am an outdoor player.

Looks like these folks had fun playing at Sheila's today

Looks like these folks had fun playing at Sheila’s today

Do you like singles or doubles better? Why?

When I first started playing pickleball there was actually more of an emphasis on singles play than doubles. At that time I was also a tennis player, so singles was a very easy adjustment. I’ve had success in both, but I have to say as a senior player I would rather play doubles. The beauty of doubles is that you can play for hours and not get tired. Also, doubles in a lot more social and you meet more players.  

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Friends at Sheila’s barn: Steve, Sheila, Bonnie, Sarah and Randy

What’s your favorite place to play? Why?

Well, my backyard has a court and during the summer I love having many friends over for pickleball. During the winter I love playing at Sheila Schoonover’s indoor court. Many of us from the Portland, Oregon area play quite a bit at Sheila’s house. June Crabb recently passed away, but she also had a wonderful indoor court at her house and some of my fondest pickleball memories are from playing there.  

What’s your secret sauce? Any tips for players?

Nothing really special, but my partner Randy and I like to drill a lot before a tournament. We also found out that we can’t drink coffee the morning of a tournament. It just makes us too jittery and makes it hard to dink.  

What’s your day job?

I am a retired Physical Education Teacher. I taught P.E. for 30 years to elementary-age kids. Pickleball was part of that curriculum!steve-paranto-action

How many hours a week do you play? How do you make time to play?

I play about 3 days a week for about 3 hours at each session. I also teach pickleball a couple more days a week.

Any lucky rituals before a big tournament?

I am now a senior player, so I make sure I pee before each match. Funny but true! 

Do you have any pickleball goals you’d like to share?

Certifying Tyson McGuffin

Certifying Tyson McGuffin

My goal is to stay competitive at the senior level and keep up with the new trends in the sport. I am an International Pickleball Teaching Professional Association (IPTPA) Certified Instructor, so I also want to keep improving my teaching methods.

Meet The Pros: Mohammed Massaquoi

Meet the Pros: Mohammed Massaquoi

I came across Mohammed’s name on the medal list at the 2016 US Open Pickleball Championship Tournament. I thought this pickleball pro is one to watch, since he can compete with some of the best, including Steve Wong, Rob Elliott and Tao Thongvanh.  Enjoy!

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Medal Win at the Real Dill Tournament in Houston, Texas

Can you list for us your major wins so we can correctly introduce you to our readers?

2016 Fall Brawl, Men’s Doubles, Skill 5.0 with Tao Thongvanh – Bronze
2016 US OPEN, Men’s Doubles Age with Steve Wong – Bronze
I beat Robert Elliot 1 out of three games 11-1 at Mid-South Regionals. I have won gold in multiple local tournaments.

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Fall Brawl Men’s Doubles – Mills Miller/Morgan Evans, Gold; Dave Weinbach/Brian Ashworth Silver; Mohammed Massaquoi/Tao Thongvanh

What paddle do you play with and why?

I have played with the Onix React paddle and currently play with the prototype Onix Voyager because it’s heavy enough to control the strongest impact from the outdoor ball, but it’s not too heavy. Also the handle is thick and long which fits well in my large hands.

What’s your pickleball story? How were you introduced to pickleball?

I consider myself to be open minded. I’ve played pick-up basketball my entire adult life. So one day when I arrived at the community center courts and found that there was no basketball because of pickleball, I decided, “Why not?” I’ve been playing ever since.

What’s your preference – playing indoor or outdoor?

It gets hot in Houston so we mostly play indoors. I’m a much better indoor player than outdoor.

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The Real Dill Tournament in Houston: 1st Place went to Mohammed Massaquoi/Shay Alhalaby, 2nd Place went to Mitus Junatas/Vuong (Joe) NGuyen and 3rd place went to Li Liu /Alan Huang

Do you like singles or doubles better? Why?

I like doubles because it embodies what pickleball was created to be: a way to have fun with multiple people. Singles is more grueling and antagonistic.

What’s your favorite place to play? Why?

The Pearland YMCA is the place to play in greater Houston. The courts have plenty of space. The competition is good and I like the players. Besides that. I love to play anywhere where I can find great competition.

 

What’s your secret sauce? Any tips for players?

Every opponent is a puzzle. If you learn what the right decisions are, then winning is just
a matter of repetition.

What’s your day job?

I’m a certified Loss Control Consultant. I’ve been doing insurance surveys since 2007.

massaquoi-on-the-court

How many hours a week do you play? How do you make time to play?

I only play about 6 or 7 hours a week. I make my own schedule and so usually I play Fridays for sure.

Any lucky rituals before a big tournament?

I’ve learned that it’s better to drink a whole lot of fluids and take cramp pills before the tournament starts and not during the tournament or after you start cramping.

Do you have any pickleball goals you’d like to share?

My goal is to get a gold in the Open Division of a Tier 2 tournament.

Meet The Pros: Rosi Pietromonaco

Meet the Pros: Rosi Pietromonaco

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Rosi at 2015 USAPA Nationals with her Gold medal, Women’s Singles

Can you list for us your major wins so we can correctly introduce you to our readers?

I’ve had major wins at the USAPA Nationals, the Huntsman Senior Games and many state tournaments.

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What paddle do you play with and why?

I use the Engage Blade pickleball paddle right now. I like using it to play singles. I’ve also played with the Encore Composite and the Paddletek Element.

What’s your pickleball story? How were you introduced to pickleball?

I saw pickleball for the first time in 2000 when I moved to The Villages. Of course, I wanted to learn the game right away. I fell in love with it and started competing in 2003. The Florida State Senior Games allowed pickleball as a sport for the first time. 

What’s your preference – playing indoor or outdoor?

I play mostly outdoors and I prefer it. Indoors is okay if the lighting is good.

Do you like singles or doubles better? Why?

I enjoy playing singles, because if I have an off day I only disappoint myself. I don’t like to let my partners down.

What’s your favorite place to play? Why?

I enjoyed my experience playing in Casa Grande, Arizona and thought the way they’ve organized their four center courts is great for the spectators.

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2016 USAPA Nationals – Women’s 70+ Singles – Gold/Barb Wintroub, Silver/Fran Myer, Bronze/Rosi Pietromonaco

What’s your secret sauce? Any tips for players?

I try to watch my opponents play if possible to see their weaknesses and movement capability. I also focus on my main shots: the deep serve, deep return and the drop shot. After that, I just try to keep it away from their forehand and hit down to their feet.

How many hours a week do you play? How do you make time to play?

I play every day, sometimes twice a day.

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2016 Florida Senior Games, Mixed Doubles Gold with Keith Coates

Any lucky rituals before a big tournament?
We practice dinking and drop shots a lot.

Anything else you’d like to share about your experience being one of the best pickleball players in the world?

I feel the most important part of playing is to enjoy it, and if you’re competitive, the rest falls into place. I try to have fun. I never get angry if something goes wrong. I just laugh it off and move on to try not to make that mistake again. I always keep it positive for my partner too, and frequently compliment them.

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2016 Huntsman Senior games: Women’s Skill Doubles: Lola Benneyan/Claire Norton – Gold, Barb DiDonato/Carol Hammerle – Silver, Rosi Pietromonaco/Phyllis Ward – Bronze

Meet The Pros – Scott Clayson

Meet The Pros – Scott Clayson

Silver Fall Brawl Scott Clayson/Laura Ogden

Fall Brawl St. George, Utah: Gold with Tyler W. Sheffield, Silver Scott Clayson/Laura Ogden Fenton Kovanda, Bronze Roxanne Pierce/Scott Lennan

Scott Clayson has been described as an “awesome partner and a class-act person” by one of his doubles partners. He’s a humble guy who is totally addicted to this sport! ENJOY!

Can you list for us your major wins so we can correctly introduce you to our readers?

Silver in 2016 Fall Brawl Mixed Doubles age with Laura Fenton Kovanda
Gold in 2016 Tournament of Champions Legends Men’s Doubles with Scott Moore
Silver in 2016 Tournament of Champions Legends Mixed Doubles with Alex Hamner
Gold in 2016 US Open Men’s age 50-55 with Scott Moore
Silver in 2016 US Open Mixed age 45-50 with Stephanie Lane
Bronze in 2016 US Open Men’s Senior Open 50+ with Michael Gates
Gold 2016 USAPA Western Regional Tournament Mixed 50+ with Gigi LeMaster
Gold in 2016 Grand Canyon State Games Men’s age 50-60 with Michael Gates
Silver in 2016 Grand Canyon State Games Mixed age 50-55 with Alex Hamner

What paddle do you play with and why?

I play with the Paddletek Tempest Wave. Early on in my pickleball experience I tried a number of different paddles. I have now found a home with the Paddletek Tempest Wave. I think it strikes the right balance of touch for the soft game and pop for a deep return of serve. I also feel that it has durability so it lasts longer than some other paddles I’ve used in the past.

What’s your pickleball story? How were you introduced to pickleball?

Interestingly, I was introduced to pickleball in 1998 by a coworker. We only had four of us playing for about a year. At the end of the year, our most avid player died and our group ceased to play. I didn’t play again for another 13 years, as there was no one to play with. Then a local tennis player, Kyle Klein, started a group in our local community of Brigham City, home of Tournament Of Champions, and my addiction grew from there.  If anything, I’ve had to restrain myself from playing too much. I would strongly encourage others to cross train with other exercises as I have found injuries come from repetitive angles on my joints.

What’s your preference – playing indoor or outdoor?

I prefer outdoor play as I like the fresh air and the outdoor surface. We do play indoors for 2 or 3 months though and still have a great time.

Do you like singles or doubles better? Why?

I prefer doubles as I want to save my joints so I can play as long as possible!

What’s your favorite place to play? Why?

I really enjoy playing recreationally in Brigham City, Utah. We have a number of different levels of players in our local area. We have a great time playing competitive games plus a little trash talking to keep it interesting.

What’s your secret sauce? Any tips for players?

My background was in high school tennis and participating in local community racquetball tournaments, but my most dominant influence has been table tennis. My mindset for the game of pickleball is that it’s like one large ping pong table. I grip high on the neck of the paddle handle and use the same grip I use on a ping pong paddle. I use a lot of wrist and particularly favor my backhand, which is unusual for a pickleball player.

What’s your day job?

I retired back in 2010 from working in the oil / gas industry as a CPA. I do a few hours of consulting each month plus some of my own investing activities. When I go out to play pickleball, I tell my wife I am headed to work. She caught on really quickly.

How many hours a week do you play? How do you make time to play?

In past years I played 4 or 5 days per week, but I’ve cut that back to 3 days per week as I want to cross train with other exercise programs like biking, lifting weights, etc. In hours, I probably play 10 hours per week.

Any lucky rituals before a big tournament?

Eggs and whole grain cereal for breakfast. Playing warm up points or games help me greatly.

Do you have any pickleball goals you’d like to share?

My goal is to not take it so seriously. If it becomes too much like work, I won’t enjoy it. It is just a game and I want to keep it that way. With that being said, it is more fun to win than to lose.

Anything else you’d like to share about your experience being one of the best pickleball players in the world?

First, I am not one of the best in world. I prove it by losing regularly! Second, I am excited to see the sport grow and positively affect the lives of people who may not have played a sport at their age or physical ability. I also think the social and emotional benefits are unique and are the greatest part of why the sport is so addictive. I do think there can be a “dark side” to the pickleball addiction if people do not keep a proper perspective and life balance. I worry sometimes that people alter their family, religious or work life to accommodate an excessive amount of pickleball. That being said, the sport has far more positive benefits than negatives and I enjoy it very much!

USAPA 2015 Nationals: Gold Medalists Rob and Jodi Elliott, Silver Medalists Josh and Abby Grubbs and Bronze Medalists Scott Clayson and Stephanie Lane.

2015 USAPA Nationals: Gold Medalists Rob and Jodi Elliott, Silver Medalists Josh and Abby Grubbs and Bronze Medalists Scott Clayson and Stephanie Lane

Meet The Pros: Gail and Dennis Dacey

Meet The Pros – Gail and Dennis Dacey

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The family that plays together, stays together, right? Gail and Dennis are experts on playing and winning at mixed doubles with each other. Enjoy!

Can you list for us your major wins so we can correctly introduce you to our readers?

Gail and Dennis have an impressive list of wins, and here are the medals they won together:
2016 USAPA Nationals – Mixed Doubles age – Gold, with Dennis
2015 National Senior Games – Mixed Doubles age – Silver
2014 Arizona State PB Championships – Mixed Doubles age – Gold
2013 National Senior Games – Mixed Doubles age- Gold
2013 So. Cal Classic – Mixed Doubles age – Gold
2013 USAPA Nationals Mixed Doubles age – Silver
2012 USAPA Nationals – Mixed Doubles Age – Gold
2012 Huntsman Sr. Games – Mixed Doubles age – Gold

What paddle do you play with and why?

Gail:  I play with the Legacy. I have a good feeling for the soft game with it and it gives me punch when I need it.
Dennis: The Black Mamba by POP. I like both the touch and the power it gives me.

What’s your pickleball story? How were you introduced to pickleball?

Gail: I played tournament tennis as a kid, racquetball as an adult. When my partner got injured I was without a sport for a couple of years. In 2007, an article in the paper described pickleball. I showed up at the courts and found I could use most of my skills from tennis and racquetball. I was hooked!
Dennis: I saw a feature in the local paper on pickleball. Just by reading the article, I knew I would love the sport.

What’s your preference – playing indoor or outdoor?

Gail and Dennis: A resounding, “Outdoors!”

Grand Canyon State Games - Gail Dacey - Glen Brower Gold

2016 Grand Canyon State Games – Gail Dacey – Glen Brower Gold, Marylou Furaus – Bob Youngren, Silver, Rita Weihe – Lance Thiede Bronze

Do you like singles or doubles better? Why?

Gail: I used to love singles more than doubles but my hamstring made me change my mind. I have grown to love and appreciate doubles, especially the connection with my partner. It’s very rewarding to work together toward a mutual goal.
Dennis: Doubles, because it doesn’t hurt so much!

What’s your favorite place to play? Why?

Gail and Dennis: We’re lucky enough to have plenty of great places near our homes in Surprise, AZ and San Marcos, CA.

What’s your secret sauce? Any tips for players?

Gail: My secret sauce is to keep the game “vanilla:” be methodical and stunningly boring, waiting patiently for the killer opportunity. And chewing gum!  Tips? Always be on the lookout for advice and tips , including watching videos that might help your game.
Dennis: My favorite shot is the backhand cross court dink from the even side of the court. Tip? Drill, drill, drill.

Dennis Dacey — at Granlibakken Tahoe.

Dennis Dacey — at Granlibakken Tahoe.

What’s your day job?

Gail: I was an elementary school teacher for 30 years, mostly kindergarten and 1st grade. I have been retired for 10 years. I wouldn’t go back for anything. Life is good, right here, right now!
Dennis: I was USAPA Rules Chairman, and now serve as IFP Rules Chair. I am a retired engineer.

How many hours a week do you play? How do you make time to play?

Gail: I love to play a couple of hours a day so maybe 12 – 14 a week. The hard part is restricting play to give the body and mind a break and do the rest of “life”!
Dennis: 18 hours a week. No problem making time.

Any lucky rituals before a big tournament?

Gail: Just the basics: eat right, hydrate, plenty of rest. Chew gum!
Dennis: Early to bed, early to rise.

Dennis and Gail Dacey — at Pueblo El Mirage RV & Golf Resort.

Dennis and Gail Dacey — at Pueblo El Mirage RV & Golf Resort.

Do you have any pickleball goals you’d like to share?

Gail: My short term goal is to wake up in the morning pain free and grateful for all pickleball has done to enrich my life. My long term goal is to play in the Nationals XVIII (2026) in the 80’s Mixed Doubles with my sweet husband and maybe earn a medal!
Dennis: My goal this year was to heal from ankle surgery and win gold at the Nationals in Mixed Doubles.

Anything else you’d like to share about your experience being one of the best pickleball players in the world?

Gail: Ha! I don’t know about that, unless you add “for her age.” In that case I’ll credit good genes and take some pride for making the most with what I have. I am even more proud of finding a way to play competitively with my husband… not always an easy task!
Dennis: At 70+, I’m competitive with my peers (and occasionally the younger guys) and that’s good enough for me.

Gigi LeMaster, Melissa McCurley, Gail Dacey and Dennis Dacey before the great treetop adventure!

Gigi LeMaster, Melissa McCurley, Gail Dacey and Dennis Dacey before the great treetop adventure!