Meet The Pros – Gail and Dennis Dacey
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!'
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.
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.
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.