Posted on 2nd February 2023
By RJ Mitchell
INGO KINDERVATER believes that this weekend’s Scottish National Championships will provide unique challenges for both the hunted and the hunters.
During a storied career Badminton Scotland’s Head of Performance represented Germany on 97 occasions while amassing an impressive haul of national titles in both Men’s and Mixed Doubles which saw him fulfil both roles in pursuit of silverware over a 15 year career.
Now as he ran his eye over the draw sheet for Scotstoun this weekend, Kindervater admits that pressure will have an impact in different forms, all of which will quite possibly leave him the most interested spectator at the National Badminton Academy.
Reflecting on what the struggle for national supremacy can mean to badminton players and the unique challenges it poses the former Olympian provided a fascinating assessment as he revealed the fear factor will definitely be in play at Scotstoun.
Kindervater said: “The first time you win your national title you are the young up and coming player, the hunter if you will and then you become the hunted one, you are being chased and that is a different feeling and one you must get used to fast.
“Really you could probably say that I was motivated by fear of losing and that can be a very powerful motivation and I expect that will be the case for some this weekend in the Scottish Nationals.
“In general I just wanted to beat people but at the German Nationals I was usually top seed and that is where the fact you are being chased motivates you, so yes the fear factor is something that I think may come into play at Scotstoun this weekend.”
Ingo continued: “When I was Germany’s top men’s doubles and mixed doubles player my focus almost all year was on the international events while representing the German National team was also tremendous.
“But the nationals are a very interesting championship as it is one of the very few events where you actually compete against your training partners so I suppose the nationals comes down to a matter of pride.
“As Germany’s No.1 I was going into the nationals week defending that position against the upcoming players who wanted to challenge me for that status and that made it very important for me. It was without doubt a matter of pride to deny them what I had and wanted to keep hold of.
“Personally speaking I did feel like there was extra pressure and it did motivate me for sure. Especially once I had won my nationals a few times it was definitely a different feeling coming back to defend my titles. I was just determined to keep doing so for as long as possible and it will be same for our players at Scotstoun this weekend.
“As a coach it is one of the few tournaments where all our players face each other and for me as a Badminton Scotland coach it is about observing how the players handle that and conduct themselves in that environment.
“Whereas most weeks I am watching them all in international tournaments willing them on to win every match. In the nationals I really want to see players stepping up.”
Kindervater won Germany’s first gold medal in the European Mixed Team Championships in 2013 and as he discussed the five titles up for grabs this weekend his anticipation was palpable.
The former World No.11 ranked Mixed Doubles player said: “Mixed Doubles draws are traditionally the biggest of the doubles draws and this is another very competitive event with Julie (MacPherson) and Adam (Hall) as our No.1 pairing and quite a bit ahead of the other partnerships in terms of world rankings and tournament experience.
“But Chris (Grimley) and Eleanor (O’Donnell) for example previously have played a very close match with them in the Scottish Open and also in a past Nationals.
“Then you have Alex (Dunn) and Ciara (Torrance) as second seeds and it’s a great opportunity for these pairings to show where they are by comparison to our top seeded pair.”
When it came to the Men’s Doubles, Kindervater, who reached a peak ranking of World No.18 in 2012 in the discipline, has no doubt that our domestic quality will provide some superb action: “Men’s Doubles is probably the strongest event we have on show this weekend.
“Alex (Dunn) and Adam (Hall) are No.22 in the rankings and the Grimley twins are in the 30s and then we have the likes of Adam Pringle and Jack MacGregor who usually play together and are around 150 in the world and third in our rankings but are playing with different partners in this one.
“Adam is partnering his brother Ciar and Jack paired with Tom Barton-Clapp, so in terms of quality of depth the men’s doubles will be a great watch for sure.
“So we have real established pairs and expectation wise and on paper it would look like a shoot-out between Alex and Adam and Chris and Matthew (Grimley) and it will be up to one of the other pairs to change that.”
Turning his attention to the Women’s Doubles Kindervater said: “Over the last two years Julie (MacPherson) and Ciara (Torrance) have established themselves as the Scottish No.1 pairing, built a world ranking and rightly go into the tournament as favourites.
“For the likes of Rachel (Andrew) and Sarah (Sidebottom), Eleanor (O’Donnell) and Lauren (Middleton) well both these pairs don’t get the chance to play against Julie and Ciara so this is a great opportunity for one of these partnerships to really test themselves in that respect.
“So, again we also have the opportunity for the younger players to make a statement and really put their hands up.”
In the Men’s Singles Callum Smith, still only 21 years-old, will defend his title against a hungry young pack who are all determined to dislodge him from his top-dog position: “Callum is our No.1 and has won the last two nationals and is favourite but he is not only the one who presents himself in a good shape,” said Ingo.
He added: “Danny Robson and James Robertson are also the same age as Callum and in terms of seeding they are his main threats but then you go younger again, and the men’s singles is a youthful field, and you have the likes of Matthew Waring, who has been seeded No.4 because of his form in the ‘A’ Grade tournaments, and particularly the one in January where he made the final.
“Finlay Jack and Angus Meldrum are also young players to watch out for over the weekend, they are the next emerging guys from the junior age groups.
“But Callum himself is just 21 and he is the established No.1 so overall it is a young event.”
While the injury withdrawal of Kirsty Gilmour from the Ladies Singles has shifted the balance of power Kindervater is again enthused about the young talent he is hoping will emerge into the spotlight this weekend and he said: “Obviously after Kirsty withdrawing Rachel (Sugden) is now the highest seeded player and then we have Lauren (Middleton) and Basia (Grodynska).
“So now it is not dissimilar to the men’s singles with it being a young draw and players coming through from the juniors like Abbie Brooks, Sophie Ford, Iona Muir and Katrina Chan and the last two are still young teenagers so that is really exciting to see.
“Again from a coaching perspective it is going to be an interesting watch to see who handles it all best.”