2024 Scottish Nationals Prove New Talent is Thriving

By RJ Mitchell

INGO KINDERVATER believes the 2024 Scottish Nationals have provided concrete proof of the young talent surging through the Badminton Scotland system and is now making its presence firmly felt in the senior game.

Following an outstanding weekend of action at the National Badminton Academy, Scotstoun, our Head of Performance was delighted with the way that the latter stages in each of the five disciplines featured new and emerging young talent.

In both singles disciplines youth was to the fore with 19-year-old Angus Meldrum shocking second seed James Robertson en route to a final where he gave defending champion Callum Smith all the trouble he could handle in an epic opening set tie-break.

In the Women’s singles, 17-year-old Katrina Chan repeated last year’s run to the semis with another last four appearance where she was joined by another talented teenager in Vibha Raman, who has now hit number four in the national rankings, also making semis, at just 17.

In the Men’s Doubles, Jack MacGregor and Adam Pringle battled it out against the eventual 2024 champion pairing of Chris and Matthew Grimley while the quarter-finals featured young talent looking to upset the established order.

It was a similar story in the Women’s Doubles with the Sophie Ford and Kirsten Berry, Amy Craig and Brooke Stalker making the last four while in the Mixed Doubles Pratyush and Pranavi Singh made the last eight.

No Complaints From Ingo:

Ingo Kindervater reflects: “Every event is a little bit different and we know that we are in different development stages at each tournament but it’s good to see the Scottish Nationals, even with three of our best players missing, there was plenty of high level entries.

“Also those high level entries didn’t get it cheap in terms of beating people and overall in the quarter-finals and semi-finals there were a lot of youngsters involved and in the mix and very much part of the competitive matches.

“So no complaints from the head coach!”

Spotlight on: Women’s Singles

Turning his attention to the Women’s Singles Ingo said: “Rachel (Sugden) and Lauren (Middleton) have played each other in consecutive years at the Nationals and last year Lauren won, this year Rachel did, and they are always battling it out.

“So it was always going to be a tough one to predict and that was great. For both of them it was also good to get that match under their belts before the European Women’s Team Championships next week.

“But we also had two youngsters with Katrina Chan and Vibha Rahman in the semis, they are both still juniors, and it was really nice to have them in there in the later stages.

“So great to see promising talent coming through to challenge the experienced players.”

Spotlight on: Men’s Singles

Assessing the action in the Men’s Singles Ingo shared: “The first set of the final was quite something from Angus (Meldrum). Despite losing it, I hope he still sees the positives as it was a really high level from him and I am pleased for Angus.

“There is no doubt, seeing him in training daily, that this did not come out of nowhere. It is based on very disciplined and focussed work which Angus produces each day in training, which is for me the most important thing.

“Everyone can have a random good day but this has been built on strong long term work, so I’m very pleased for him to produce this level.”

Reacting to Callum Smith’s fourth consecutive National title, Ingo said: “Generally I am also very happy that Callum is back and that he came out of the (ankle) injury and used it to improve certain aspects.

“He has only been back in training for just over two months and having been out for around six months before that with no tournament play this has been impressive.

“In January Callum had some incredibly good performances at international tournaments with a great performance in Sweden in the first round where he beat a very strong Swiss player but it will not be the easiest period coming up in terms of dealing with expectations.

“He has to work through things to get to a position where he really has built a foundation, as for the moment he can’t control all of his level.

“So, for me at the Nationals some of the guys asked some questions of Callum on the mental side and I am very happy with the way he answered them.

“In the semi he was down 16-11 in the second set against Ciar (Pringle), who is a tricky draw, and if he had lost that set it might have got nervy, but Callum found a way to up his level and turn it around.

“Then in the final the first set against Angus he had someone on the other side of the net firing on all cylinders and he found a way to win that first one and upped his level in the second.

“So mentally some very nice things from Callum.”

Spotlight on: Mixed Doubles

When it came to the Mixed Doubles, Ingo had no doubt there was extra poignancy about Eleanor O’Donnell’s triumph in tandem with Chris Grimley which could have come at her final nationals: “It’s just a nice story and great for Eleanor to get that last memory from her playing career. So a very strong performance from her and Chris.”

Spotlight on: Women’s Doubles

Reflecting on the Women’s Doubles, Ingo said: “If you look at the Scottish Nationals you have to keep in mind where certain people are internationally in terms of comparison.

“Julie and Ciara have now established themselves internationally and they are a bit above the other doubles teams at the moment and it is nice to have a women’s doubles of that standard.

“For the players including the younger players coming through it should be a positive challenge to bridge that gap.”

Spotlight on: Men’s Doubles

Concluding with his thoughts on the Men’s Doubles where Chris and Matthew Grimley claimed their second Scottish title, Ingo reacted: “The Men’s Doubles is very strong for us. Alex (Dunn) and Adam (Hall) weren’t there but are 26 in the world rankings and then we have the Grimleys who won two international events last year and they got really challenged by Jack (MacGregor) and Adam (Pringle).

“So to have three pairs of that standard is great and internationally it is of a very high level, which is very satisfying.

“But the twins were favourites and they brought it home and it was a good job from them.”