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Connor Garnett on What The Dink Minor League Pickleball Meant to His Career

by Jason Flamm on

Since its inception, Minor League Pickleball has undergone a few changes. For instance, it was recently renamed The Dink Minor League Pickleball (The Dink MiLP), and its primary purpose has become to deliver amazing tournament experiences to pickleball players of all skill levels.

But once upon a time, The Dink MiLP was considered a "feeder" league for Major League Pickleball, and it attracted some of the country's highest-level pickleball players.

While that's not necessarily the goal of the league anymore – though if you want to get on MLP's radar, it certainly won't hurt – we did want to share the story of one current pro who benefited greatly from his time with The Dink Minor League Pickleball.

Let's meet Connor Garnett.

Who is Connor Garnett?

Connor Garnett is a current pickleball professional playing on the PPA Tour who is ranked:

  • No. 3 in Men's Singles
  • No. 14 in Men's Doubles
  • No. 13 in Men's Mixed Doubles

He also has a DUPR of 6.691 in Men's Doubles and 6.999 in Men's Singles.

To put it lightly, the guy's got serious game.

In fact, he's become known for possessing one of the deadliest two-handed backhands in all of pickleball, which he calls the Twoey. You can learn how to do hit it yourself with this tutorial:

Perhaps even more impressive is that much of Connor's doubles success has come alongside several different partners throughout the last two years on tour.

While we can't say for sure, it could be due to his beginnings playing in team-based tournaments like The Dink MiLP.

Connor, far left, is currently ranked No. 3 in Men's Singles on the PPA Tour.

From the minors to the majors

Like many current pros, Connor once had a "real" job. He worked in investment banking, and he says it was after his first minor league tournament that he realized that playing pickleball might be a good option for him.

"That was the first tournament where I won some money and I realized I might have a career in pickleball. I started to realize this pickleball thing might be for me."

Before that event, Connor had only played in two pickleball tournaments.

"So I hadn't had a ton of experience with tournaments before, but it [the minor league event] felt very chill and like it was a community. Everyone was there after the event kind of hanging around. So it was really cool."

Connor's ascent from the minors to the majors happened quickly.

He was drafted in the Challenger-level draft by the Chicago Slice in late 2022 – not long after his Minor League Pickleball debut. Then, in Season 2 in 2023, he was drafted in the fourth round by the Bay Area Breakers, a Premier-level team.

In April 2024, he moved up a round, being taken 31st overall by the Columbus Sliders from the Premier Level.

Complete Results From the 2024 MLP Premier Level Draft
Major League Pickleball held its Premier Level Draft Tuesday night. We’ve got your complete results:

Why others should play in The Dink MiLP

We've written before about some of the reasons we think The Dink Minor League Pickleball events are special.

Five Reasons to Play in The Dink Minor League Pickleball
Looking to enhance your tournament-playing experience? We highlight five reasons why you should play in The Dink Minor League this summer.

But we were curious what Connor thought as to why others should consider playing in The Dink MiLP.

Here is what he had to say:

"I think the coolest thing about Minor League is that you get to see how your level stacks up with people from different areas. Otherwise, it's easy to be in your bubble and be like 'I'm this ranking.'

"So you get new competition, which is awesome. I think that's one of the coolest things about it. It's also a very fun team event. It's where you can go in with three other friends and you're there as a community.

"So it's just a little bit more of a chill way of dipping your toe into the competing scene as opposed to entering into a regular tournament where it's just you and one other person. Which feels a little more serious."

Learn more about Connor Garnett and sign up for one of his clinics or grab some of his gear.

Connor Garnett Pickleball - Home of the Twoey
Home of Connor Garnett Pickleball; All things Twoey with Connor Garnett’s journey, camps, merch, and more!

Ready to try The Dink MiLP?

If you're unsure about trying The Dink Minor League Pickleball tournaments, we hope Connor inspires you to take the leap.

To find tournaments near you, check out the list of upcoming events.

How to Find The Dink Minor League Tournaments Near You
Want to play in Major League Pickleball-style events near you? Check out our guide on how to find The Dink Minor League events in your area.

A huge thank you to Connor Garnett for providing insight into his first-hand experience with The Dink Minor League Pickleball.

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Jason Flamm

Jason Flamm

Jason is a writer from St. Louis. He’s been a coach in several sports and is currently working on his pickleball coaching certification. He loves to teach and share his passions.

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