Posted on 20th December 2023
By RJ Mitchell
INGO KINDERVATER believes that the experience gained in the European Men’s Team Championship qualifiers at the National Badminton Centre in Milton Keynes will provide a super solid foundation for the progress of our men’s team.
Our Scots finished a close second to Ukraine in Subgroup 1 of Group 5 losing this pivotal encounter 2-3 before going on to beat Slovakia 4-1.
There were many positives to take for our largely youthful side, in which 17-year-old Matthew Waring made his debut, National Champion Callum Smith returned from a six-month injury lay-off in the singles while Adam Pringle and Jack MacGregor made an impressive contribution in the doubles.
Taking an overview of the qualifiers, Head of Performance Ingo said: “It was an interesting one as we know about the depth we have in the men’s doubles and in these matches we proved very strong over the whole event.
“In the men’s singles we are still working on development and we feel like we’ve got some momentum there but it is early stages with a young group and we want these guys to continue to grow.
“So in terms of that it was definitely an invaluable experience for the guys. Obviously we would have loved to win one of the singles against Ukraine but our whole debrief afterwards was that we want more than that now.
“I could not complain about anyone’s performance and it was all good in the end and we have taken it as an experience that will allow the team to take the next step in our development process when we get to 2025 next time around.”
The campaign was knocked off balance when unfortunately James Robertson injured his ankle prior to the opening batch of singles matches and it was Matthew Waring’s turn to step up for his first Senior cap.
Reflecting on this cruel blow for James, Ingo said: “He was supposed to play the first match and was on the team sheet but then injured himself in training just before that when he turned an ankle.
“James would absolutely have deserved his team selection and this was almost heartbreaking as he really worked himself into our senior squad and has not come through the normal channels.
“But we took him on and he has come along in all different departments from training culture, game management and level of play and putting him on in the first match was the reward for all of that.
“But also because we believed he could get the win and the injury was a bit tragic, James was devastated, but unfortunately he twisted his ankle and it did swell up quite a bit.
“The good news is that he is back in training again but on the day there was no chance and I really feel for him as he absolutely deserved the opportunity.”
Matthew Waring more than took his chance as Ingo admitted: “That then turned into a chance for Matthew and we threw him in at the deep end (lost to Leonov 16-21, 21-17, 9-21) as every singles match was do or die for the overall outcome of the tie and when he stepped on we had lost two singles already.
“So I can only tip my hat as to how he performed. Matthew fought to the very end and he gave his absolute best and he played very bravely against an experienced player on the other side and that was very nice to see.
“In the second match against Slovakia both Matthew (win v Pavlik 21-12, 21-13) and Callum (win v Kadlek 21-15, 21-9) were just the better players on court against Slovakia and that was fantastic to see.
“Also Josh had the toughest matches at the top of the order and both Ukraine (lost to Bosniuk 14-21, 18-21) and Slovakia’s (lost to Dratva 21-17, 8-21, 15-21) No.1s were very strong players but Josh was very competitive which was nice to see.”
When it came to the doubles, the depth of quality in the Scots ranks made for some fine performances as Ingo explained: “The idea going into the event was that we wanted Adam (Hall) and Alex (Dunn) to have their match (won v Yakovlev and Yeromenko 21-15, 21-9) and we also wanted to use the depth and that we had to put Adam and Jack into responsible positions.
“It’s good news that our doubles department is as strong as it is but for these guys (Adam and Jack) it is not as easy for them to jump into team events like that but they are 100% at the level.
“We also believe they have a lot more potential than their current world ranking and that is competitive already but we believe they have more big steps in them and we are very happy that they had the chance and took it at Milton Keynes.
“The way Adam and Jack both came out firing against Slovakia (win v Kadlec and Pavlik 21-4, 21-9) was something to be proud of. I sat behind the court with a big smile as it was very easy to coach and quite a pleasure to witness.”
In conclusion for Ingo this was a very positive end to 2023: “So we got out of it what we wanted, we got one team with the women through which was brilliant and with the other in the men there were so many learning points and positives we can take forward.
“So that is all very pleasing and we have ended 2023 on a very positive note.”