I’ve only been playing pickleball a short while and have been fortunate to play in a number of locations in the U.S. and Canada with some great folks and skilled players. Common to all were the expressions of pickleball as a sport of inclusion, sportsmanship, etiquette and the notion that pickleball was a game that could be enjoyed by all, well into late ages. When we started playing this spring in T. Bay, we met many who reflected the same values and made coming out lots of fun. So much so that we were excited to get our son to come out and join in the fun.

My wife, Sherry and I were excited at the return of pickleball, particularly when it moved to Oliver Rd. this summer and the numbers of players increased. We were regular participants and made sure to come early to help set up and also to help with take down. Soon though, we noticed some changes. The “ambassador” and as I was told the “self professed elite” started implementing rules of process and participation for games and courts. These were aimed, it was said by the “elite”, to improve the fairness and increase enjoyment for all, however, what we saw was more consistent participation by a few individuals at the far end of the courts. As we paid more attention, we noticed the same few were playing multiple games, resetting scores, and manipulating player play to optimize time spent with the same few individuals, simply shifting the individuals around on the court to keep it interesting. When this didn’t work, the elite would explain a different exception to rule (e.g. creation of a challenge court).

Until last night, it was worth the hassle of dealing with the arrogance of a few. Last night, I came a bit late. I jumped in to help set up a 4th court and ignored the shove I got off the “elite court” and got to play with my wife. Admittedly, it was a rough first game and I didn’t play my best game. I admit that I am a beginner and do not have advanced skills that some other players profess to have. It also didn’t help that most shots where simply spiked at my wife’s upper body to earn the point. I’m convinced if she could have moved out of the balls may have been out of bounds, regardless, she couldn’t so we had our assess handed to us. We clapped paddles, said nothing and moved on. Just move on to the next game right? NOOOOO. This was elite territory so quickly, the score was discussed with the next players while my wife and I waited for what we thought were the next 2 folks to play, as there were only two people not on a court - boy were we wrong.

The ambassador not only ignored us as she strolled by, she remarked to her “elite” partner in tow and others in the vicinity, including my wife, that she would wait until there were more advanced players available… So we were left standing on an empty court. Funny, on Tuesday, I played 3 games with the elite player and noticed he made as many blunders and mistakes as I did.

Contrary to what I understood about the sport of pickleball, it appears that in Thunder Bay leaders and elite alike subscribe to embarrassment, bullying and poor sportsmanship as values and tactics to monopolize court time and opportunities. This in order to use the “lesser members” to lobby for more resources that will ultimately be advantageous for them ….Shame!!!! To the many nice folks we have met and are not in the “elite” I’ve enjoyed playing with you. To Darron and those who do not subscribe to these values I hope you can influence some changes.

I hope at some time to play when things change and fairness and sportsmanship are brought back into the leadership of this group. Until then, congratulations, you probably freed up three spaces for the elites, one of which would only have brought in a bunch of younger players. What a bother!!!!!



Hey Bryan, I can tell you with all honesty that I have had the same experience when I first started playing Pickleball in Thunder Bay, as well as, in Florida. If it wasn't for people like Dave Chow, Tom Steele and a couple of others, I may have packed it all in just to avoid the drama.

While Sue raises some valid points, the problem as I see it and, as I expressed to others, is that there are no organizational rules governing play format or, rules are made on the fly subject to change without notice.

The organization of any sport relies on governance by an executive, appointed by membership to create play format rules that address the development needs of all levels of play. The rules must be applied fairly, consistently, communicated to members and not subject to change without notice. There are examples of inclusive formats across North America that vary according to the membership size. The play format used by the club I attend in Florida with a 1000 members would not be functional in Thunder Bay. Equally, the format in Kenora (smaller than Thunder Bay) will not work in Florida. Collingwood has players from 5.0 to 2.0 and they still arrived at a format where everyone is happy. All of these clubs and the court play are governed by known rules, put in place by an executive appointed by the members.

We will always remain fractured in the absence of a recreational sport structure. Those who wish to participate outside the structure still have an opportunity to pick up court time, call friends, and just go play like many of us do. Even with rules; every court experiences unfair play due to human behaviour, personalities and competitive play versus fun play; these behaviours occur at all levels of play. However, a good set of rules, created by fair minded people in an accountable environment helps to manage the court playing time and fairness. There is a real lack of clarity over who is making the rules and who can change the rules. I believe it is time to organize and give a mandate to a duly elected/appointed executive to build an inclusive membership to create fairness.

In the meantime, keep playing. I hope to see you, Sherry and Chris next week on the court.

0-0 Serve



Matthias has made a lot of great points...Hope everybody enjoys the game and I strongly believe harmony is important.


Hi everyone. Check out the info on the proposed Indoor Racquet Sports Facility for Thunder Bay in the docs section


All venues are closed until further notice from the City of Thunder Bay


when do you expect PB outdoor courts to open?


As of May 23, I expected them to be open already. ON gov allowed outdoor use starting May 19. City is behind in unlocking the gates. TBayPA will post information to our Facebook page
I don't expect to see any TBayPA events posted here until mid September. There may be some community centre events if they open up during the summer.


Are 2-3 rackets supplied?


There are some rackets available for use for those who don’t own a racket. I cannot provide you with the exact number but I believe there is at least 4 rackets.