By RJ Mitchell
INGO KINDERVATER has issued a best is yet to come verdict on Scotland’s European Mixed Team Championship campaign.
The Scots finished a creditable joint fifth in Aire-Sur-La-Lys after defeating Ukraine in their final Group A clash following battling losses to England and eventual winners Denmark.
The Scottish Head of Performance was forced to watch the tournament remotely after succumbing to a flu virus but was in no doubt that our youthful squad showed enough promise across the three ties to suggest that cherished hopes of medalling next time round are realistic.
While Kindervater was also pleased with the way the depth of the squad was utilised to impressive effect especially in the must win meeting with the Ukraine which brought the curtain down at the Complexe Sportif Regional.
Ingo said: “We look at the group as one that is in a development process and they have shown great promise and some good results already and I am very sure that they all have potential for further improvement and development left.
“That is exactly what it is about for us, to take these next steps and that is what we are working towards.
“For me the message is that there is still quite a bit of work to be done for us.”
As he reflected further on our campaign in France, Kindervater has no doubt that the potential is there to close the gap on the big guns of European badminton like Denmark and eventual runners-up France who pushed the Danes all the way in a thrilling final which the Scandinavians claimed 3-2.
Kindervater, who won Germany’s first ever gold medal in the European Mixed Team Championships back in 2013, continued: “So, overall I would put it down as okay. We knew we were going into the matches with England and Denmark as underdogs and that we went into the match with Ukraine as favourites, so I suppose we ended up on paper where we may have expected to finish, not more not less.
“But we want to be able to challenge the top teams and be in a position where we are not settling for where we perhaps expected to finish but we have had to settle for that this time and it is what it is.
“The matches went okay but we fell a bit short against the top teams in the areas they are better than us. So there are gaps we need to close if we want to get to them and beat these teams like Denmark or England.
“That is the realistic evaluation of the week and we take it as it is and go back to work and make sure that we can overcome these challenges the next time we play these teams.”
There was indeed plenty to like in the singles with Kirsty Gilmour posting a 100% record across her three matches and James Robertson revelling in his first campaign at this rarefied level in the Men’s Singles.
While in the Women’s Doubles Julie MacPherson and Ciara Torrance enjoyed an epic and pivotal victory against Ukraine when the pressure was very much on and in the Men’s Doubles National champions Adam Hall and Alex Dunn alternated impressively with Matthew and Chris Grimley with the latter imperious against the Ukrainians.
While Ciara and Adam partnered to impressive effect to close the deal against Ukraine and post a winning Adieu to the 2023 EMTC before returning home to Caledonia.
All of which left the former World No.11 doubles star to admit he is looking forward with real optimism: “Obviously you have to point out Kirsty coming home with three wins which is a strong week by any standard.
“For James I think he took it the right way and appreciated the opportunity (to play World No.1 Viktor Axelsen). He tried the best he could, was very positive and displayed exactly the correct attitude.
“In the Women’s Doubles it was great that Julie and Ciara showed that fight after losing the first set against Ukraine. They would have gone in there with the expectation to beat the Ukrainian pair but it is one of those where if you lose the first set in the close manner they did then coming back and showing that fight was very good to see.
“Obviously we do not play team tournaments too often and being able to alternate the pairings in the Men’s Doubles is almost a side effect of us having two pairs. Clearly we are really pleased that we have not just two pairs but a strong men’s doubles group as a whole with the two leading pairs being so high in the world rankings.
“So it is a very good situation to be in as they can train together, compete, and really drive each other’s games on, so being able to alternate the pairings is a result of all that which is positive.
“For most of the year they are playing as the pairings of Adam, Alex, Matthew and Chris so for sure we are very happy to have two pairs of that quality.
“The mixed team event is one of many that the players get the opportunity to compete in while they play many other tournaments because of their positive world rankings and so get the exposure at a high level through that.
“The order of play that we had against Ukraine with both teams having players in two events meant that, especially for Ciara, there was just a very short break between her two ties and that is sometimes how it is in these team matches.
“But it was good that Ciara got the experience of having two physically demanding matches over three sets within that short time period.
“It was also very positive Ciara and Adam showed that fight in the final match and came through.”
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