Places to play



Pickleball at LaVerendrye Thur Jan 9 2020

Open Pickleball play is still scheduled for 7pm tomorrow – there is a basketball game scheduled to finish by 7pm so there may be a slight delay.

The Thunder Bay Pickleball Association is working hard to increase the number of times and places available in Thunder Bay for indoor pickleball play. The best way to get up to date information for all venues is through signing up at

Everyone is welcome including visitors. If you have any questions about signing up please email Darron Smylie at

Pickleball event Sat Jan 4, 2020 at St Patrick’s High School from 9am to 1pm

Hi everyone.

Exciting things are happening in Thunder Bay pickleball scene. With the recent formation of Thunder Bay Pickleball Association which links all pickleball sites and players together and the online community that Darron Smylie and Toby Graveson have worked so hard on, you can find out when and where to play pickleball in Thunder Bay. Please register to get access to this information at and also to use the player sign-up process. See link below:

TBayPA events

This also has details on registering for the event on Saturday (6 courts will be available).

If you have any questions about the events or how to sign up please email Darron Smylie at

Here’s to a great year of pickleballing in 2020.

Have fun, play safe.

… Julie M




Extra Pickleball Play available Friday Dec 13 & Saturday Dec 14th :)

Mark your calendars for extra play this week! Darron and Toby have done a great job to  organize extra play times. See below for details … call Toby for extra information at 807-628-0736

Friday December 13

6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

École Gron Morgan Public School

174 Marlborough St, Thunder Bay, ON P7B 4G4

2 courts with 10 foot baseline and sideline clearance and 20 foot ceiling

Use main entrance on Marlborough, gym is to right

$2.00 drop in fee, no age restriction, recreational play intermediate-advanced

Also Friday December 13

6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

Bishop EQ Jennings Catholic School

775 John St, Thunder Bay, ON P7B 6H3

2 courts with tight (43 inch) baseline clearance and 18 foot ceiling

Use main door on John St, gym is straight ahead

$2.00 drop in fee, no age restriction, recreational play beginner-intermediate

Saturday December 14

1:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.

St. Ignatius Catholic High School

285 Gibson St, Thunder Bay, ON P7A 2J6

6 courts with medium baseline clearance and 24 foot ceiling

Use main door on Gibson St, gym is straight ahead

$2.00 drop in fee for up to full 4 hours, no age restriction, all play levels, recreational and challenge courts

This is a 4 hour play period! If you only want to play the regular 2 hours, please consider either 1:30-3:30 or 3:30-5:30.

We will post holiday play hours and locations (December 21-January 4 calendar) shortly.

Thank you for being a member of TBayPA. We hope to see you on the courts this Friday and Saturday!

How do people get rated to play at the 3.0 plus level from 8:30pm to 10:00pm at LaVerendrye High School?

We use the internal rating system developed by the USAPA unless people have been rated at other facilities. NOTE: This is not an official USAPA or Pickleball Canada rating.

No matter how long you have been playing pickleball, you will be evaluated on your ability to meet the ALL the following criteria MOST of the time during regular game play. Julie will be available this Thursday October 31,st at 7:00pm  to  answer questions and provide tips to improve your game.

If you are new and are interested in playing after 8:30pm let Julie or Sally know and we will get the team to evaluate you after a few weeks of regular play. If you have been rated previously you will need to challenge the rating (process available at “Skills Assessment” section of this website).

As you look at the various levels remember that you need to demonstrate ALL of the skills at the lower levels as well as the level you are aiming for.


Players at Level 2.0 demonstrate the following:

o   Knows some of the basic rules, including the”two bounce rule”and scoringo   Demonstrates a forehand groundstroke

o   Demonstrates a backhand groundstroke

o   Demonstrates a volley

o   Demonstrates an overhead smash

o   Gets some serves into the correct service square

o   Knows where to stand as the serve team and the return team



Players at Level 2.5 possess Level 2.0 and lower skills and consistently demonstrate the following:

o   Knows some of the basic rules including the two bounce rule after serve, and how     to scoreo   Demonstrates control on forehand groundstrokes (direction, depth, height)

o   Uses backhand groundstrokes

o   Placing serves in correct service court

o   Knows correct court positioning as the serve and return team

o   Approaches the non-volley line to hit volleys

o   Keeps the ball in play on short rallies

o   Uses the forehand lob

o   Dinking the ball at the net

o   Attempting to hit a slower paced ball landing in the non-volley

zone (3rd shot)



Players at Level 3.0 possess Level 2.5 and lower skills and consistently demonstrate the following:

o       Demonstrates placement of serves (depth, location)

o       Uses deeper and higher returns of serve to allow time to approach the net

o       Serve team attempts to approach the net on the 3rd shot with a slower-paced/ drop shot

o       Approaches the non-volley line quickly and holds the line

o       Sustains a dink exchange at the net

o       Sustains a short volley session at the net

o       Exhibits correct court positioning for doubles and how to “move as a team”

o       Adjusts to differing ball speeds (serves, volleys, groundstrokes)

o       Demonstrates controlled forehand groundstrokes (placement, direction, depth)

o       Demonstrates controlled backhand groundstrokes (placement, direction, depth)

o       Uses the forehand lob with some success

o       Returns the ball lower over the net



Players at Level 3.5 possess Level 3.0 and lower skills and consistently demonstrate the following:

o   Places serves deep into the court with appropriate placemento   Can utilize the 3rdshot slower-paced/drop shot to approach the net

o   Quickly approaches and holds the non-volley line when appropriate

o   Uses deeper and higher returns of serve to approach the net

o   Sustains a short volley session at the net with some placement and control

o   Initiates and maintains a sustained dink exchange at the net

o   Consistently returns lower balls over the net

o   Demonstrates control/consistency on both forehand and backhand groundstrokes (direction, depth, and pace)

o   Uses slower paced shots vs faster paced shots to their advantage; able to adjust to differing ball speeds consistently

o   Able to create coverage gaps and then hit to these gaps

o   Hits overheads with control

o   Avoids hitting out balls

o   Uses a forehand and backhand lob when appropriate

o   Developing patience during rallies

o  Able to play with partners effectively using court strategies such as partner communication

o   Knows all main rules including how to determine the score based on server/ player position



Players at Level 4.0 possess Level 3.5 and lower skills and consistently demonstrate the following:

o   Controls and places serves and return of serveso   Consistent and dependable forehand and backhand groundstrokes (directional control, depth, placement, and pace)

o   Consistent and dependable volleys (directional control, depth, placement, and pace)

o   Consistent and dependable overheads (directional control, depth, placement, and pace)

o   Accuracy in placing lobs

o   Consistently executes successful slow paced (3rd shot) from the baseline to approach net

o   Initiates and maintains a sustained dink exchange at the net to elicit a “put away” shot

o   Able to change a slow paced strategy to a fast paced strategy, vice versa

o   Can block and return fast, hard volleys

o   Can handle speed on shots without over-hitting or hitting out-of-bounds

o   Moves effectively with partner, easily switching sides, and communicates when required

o   Controls play at the non-volley line, keeping their opponents back, driving them off the line and controlling the speed or placement of the ball

o   Consistently creates coverage gaps and hits to these gaps

o   Recognizes and exploits weaknesses in their opponent’s game

o   Poaches effectively

o   Developing their use of spin on a variety of shots

o  Maintains patience in rallies

Skill assessment sheets are based on those provided by the USAPA website. These were compiled for use in assigning internal club skill ratings and do not replace the official USAPA/IFP skill level definitions, but provide assistance to help rate players within local clubs.  Players can also use these sheets to determine what particular skills they need to work on.

See more information