Callum Smith Determined to Make Hard Work Pay Off With Rankings Climb

By RJ Mitchell

CALLUM SMITH has paid tribute to the work of coaches Ingo Kindervater and David Gilmour in providing him with the foundation to climb the international rankings.

The Scottish No.1 singles player made his return to the competitive match court in Cardiff, in November at the Yonex Welsh International Championships, following an absence of just under six months after suffering torn ligament and bone bruising to his right ankle in June.

But the 21-year-old has shown remarkable dedication and determination to claim what was his fourth consecutive national singles title at Scotstoun earlier this month.

Gratitude to Ingo and David:

Now as he looks forward to returning to the European singles circuit at the Portugal International Championships next week, where he will be joined in the first round of qualification by Angus Meldrum and James Robertson, the Scottish champion was keen to pay his respects to the work done by our coaching staff.

Callum shared: “I work with Ingo (Kindervater, Head of Performance) and David (Gilmour, Singles Coach); Ingo is obviously the head coach and he works with doubles and singles and David is the head singles coach and they are both working with me in my sessions.

“One day David will take it and on another it will be Ingo, so it’s great to get advice and knowledge from the two of them in one session, it really is really very beneficial.

“I love David, he is such a positive coach and when there is something to improve he will always find a way to make even something that is negative have a positive.

“I have a lot of time for David, he has made a big difference and him being there just lifts the mood of the players and it’s great he is the head singles coach.

Discipline Is Key:

When it comes to the specifics of the work the trio have been putting in Callum revealed: “My discipline is still the big thing, just playing my game but cutting out the rash unnecessary stuff, not playing the fancy shot but playing the correct shot and I am improving that.

“But there is still plenty of work to be done and also to just keep developing from one session to the next.”

Cutting It In Caldas Da Rainha:

Next up for Callum is next Wednesday’s trip to Caldas da Rainha which will herald the start of a busy competitive calendar which the four-time Scottish champion is determined to use to take his game to the next level.

Considering this Callum said: “It’s Portugal next week, then Poland and in April it’s Malta and Finland and in May it’s Slovenia and Germany.

“So it’s two tournaments per month and I am really excited about the prospect of just playing in a run of events and to really try and climb the rankings as high as I can go and hopefully start to get into the next level of tournament.

“Last year being out with the injury really just made me realise that this is what I want to do and if I want to be the best version of myself I need to play against the best players possible, so building my ranking is the key to that.

“That is my big goal for the year ahead.”


Callum Smith

Fourth National Title Provides Extra Satisfaction:

Looking back on his fourth Scottish singles title, Callum has no doubt it has a special significance for him given the threat of a career ending injury and he reflected: “It’s hard to compare each title but I would put it right up there with my first. I won that when I was 18 and with it being the first it was just a moment I will never forget but this year to win it after the injury I had and how long I was out well it is a big achievement for me.

“Given I had my ankle cut open, my training was disrupted and I’ve missed the majority of the year then the fourth one was right up there alongside my first national title.

“It was also a big relief that I could do it and stay on top with all the disruption of the injury.”

Answering The Questions:

While last year Callum found his status as Scotland’s top dog in singles challenged by Matthew Waring, this year it was Angus Meldrum who was asking questions and Callum admitted his relief in coming up with the answers.

He said: “I hadn’t seen Angus play as well as he did at this year’s nationals before and particularly in that first game of the final.

“I spoke to him after the tournament and we both agreed that the first set was almost unreal the level he played at.

“In the second set I took a step back, was more disciplined and not going for the winners too early and played the rallies as they were, where Angus was maybe still looking for the quick winners and I soaked it up and began to out play him in that respect.

“So I was pleased to get the job done and also with how I closed out the second set to get the win.”

Scottish Women’s Team Are An Inspiration to The Men:

The Scottish champion also had warm words of appreciation for the bronze medal won by the Scottish Women’s Team at the recent European championships which Callum says are an inspiration for their male counterparts.

He said: “So it was a great achievement for the girls and the whole nation should be proud of what they have done.

“When you think about the circumstances and Eleanor’s retiral before the finals and then Lauren being injured on the opening day and out of the equation, for Scotland still to get a bronze medal is a huge achievement and the team should be very proud of that.

“Then you have the likes of Julie MacPherson and Brooke Stalker having to step up to play singles when they are doubles players and neither of them would have expected that. So the team really worked well together helping each other out and being behind each other and supporting each other to the end.

“Playing team events is always so much fun and having your whole team behind you and supporting you is just a great feeling compared to the individual events and for the guys to have to wait for almost two years for the next opportunity for us is a shame.

“But right now I just need to focus on the next event and starting to string together good results and then hopefully when the next team event comes round I will be ready to really do myself justice and hopefully make Scotland proud.”