Experiencing Interruptions?


Welcome to the world of Ultra Senior tennis. Where octogenarians train like young pros, travel like itinerant rock bands, and actually look forward to getting older, if only every 5 years, when they “age up” into the next competitive category and have relative youth on their side. Through the lens of this unique subculture, the film promotes discussion about what it means to be a champion. It will also ignite broader questions about aging and the unexpected power of a goal.

  • Kate Keckler Dandel
  • Keckler Keckler Dandel
  • John Powless
    Key Cast
  • Steve Tignor
    Key Cast
  • Ron Tonidandel
    Key Cast
  • Richard Doss
    Key Cast
  • Marcus Freeman
    Key Cast
  • Bob Sherman
    Key Cast
  • George McCabe
    Key Cast
  • Amy Enser
  • Catherine Grealish
  • Andres Garreton
  • Nathan M. Miller
  • Project Type:
  • Genres:
    Sports, Family, Seniors
  • Runtime:
    1 hour 28 minutes
  • Completion Date:
    April 22, 2016
  • Production Budget:
    150,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • Seattle International Film Festival
    United States
    May 21, 2016
    North American Premiere
Director Biography - Kate Keckler Dandel

A creative instigator with a passion for compelling stories, Kate Dandel is an award-winning writer, producer, and consultant. An experienced collaborator with a positive attitude and efficient approach, GOLD BALLS is her directorial debut and first film project. Kate holds a BA from the University of Notre Dame and an MPA from the University of Washington. She is an inaugural recipient of the Aegis Living and SIFF $50,000 Documentary Filmmaker grant and was also selected to receive a King County 4Culture Grant. She ran a successful crowd funding campaign for GOLD BALLS on the Kickstarter platform. Fiction writing awards include the Los Angeles Romance Writers Foot in the Door Contest, the Toronto Golden Opportunity Contest and the Indiana Golden Opportunity Contest.

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Director Statement

I still remember the night I first had the idea to do a film about ultra senior tennis. Within moments I knew I was onto something. The topic was unique—a little known subculture, beautiful locations, compelling characters, plenty of action, and the potential for a built-in competition structure. A month later, I hopped on a flight for Sarasota, Florida to begin shooting GOLD BALLS.

I believe we all have a need for honest, sensitive and hopeful stories about characters to whom we can relate. And the cast of characters in GOLD BALLS reflect a range of masculine archetypes that will be familiar to just about everyone – the born leader, the gritty underdog, the cocksure comedian, the devoted husband, and the insecure first-timer. What unites these characters is their common need for wins, or at the very least, a competitive fix. And the fact that despite (or perhaps because of) their advancing age, they remain stubbornly motivated to win.

On an even more basic level, the story of these athletes offers a perspective on a theme that interests me most—what keeps champions in the fight. Of course, GOLD BALLS has a sweet and humorous tone, but the ever-present sense that time is fleeting gives the film a deeper thematic mooring. To me, there is nothing more intriguing than the certainty and conviction professed by people like Ron and John and Bob. Whether or not they are even aware of it, they challenge the rest of us to align our objectives and get busy doing what we want to do, while we still can.

From first inception to print, GOLD BALLS took about three years. It was uncertain and often exhausting work, but I believe my team created a sensitive and insightful profile of these champions. As a director and producer, the challenge throughout every step of this process has been to reconcile my vision with the very real constraints we face in independent filmmaking.

But the goal of documentary is not to achieve perfection – it is to gain insight into reality. And it is the reality of these characters, their goals, drive, ambition, challenges and life that has inspired me. I hope that our audience finds that same inspiration in GOLD BALLS.
—Kate Dandel
Seattle, Washington