By RJ Mitchell
INGO KINDERVATER has tagged the five tournament European Swing as a “positive” period for our elite players.
Badminton Scotland’s Head of Performance has overseen a whistlestop tour of Germany, England, Switzerland, Spain, and France which has been filled with drama, outstanding victories, gut-wrenching defeats but also punctuated with injuries.
Now, as his players took a well-earned break, overall the former Olympian has been satisfied with our international squad’s progress.
Reflecting on this key period of competition against the cream of the continents, Ingo said: “Overall this spell was positive and there were good things in there but also it could have gone better particularly with the injuries we have sustained.
“But for sure there were new experiences that were good for the development of our players and plenty to build on.”
Focussing his microscope on the Men’s Doubles, Ingo believes this is where the outstanding result of the five tournament sequence came and he said: “Alex (Dunn) was one of the players who was struggling over this tournament block with an injury and over the last few weeks he has not been able to carry out his full programme in training and has not been operating at full fitness while we also had to pull him out of the German Open.
“So he didn’t go into this spell at 100% but if you look at it all they had the outstanding result from all our players when they beat the Koreans (World No.10 ranked: Choi Sol Gyu & Kim Won Ho 21-15, 21-14) at the All England.
“That said if you are not 100% and haven’t been able to do the proper level of training you will not be consistent all the time and in Orleans last time Alex and Adam didn’t reach their best performance level.
“I would say they also struggled to find the right style against the Chinese (L: Chen Bo Yang & Liu Yi :21-12, 21-12) and they needed to adjust a couple of things which is something you can do when the base is there and everything is good but that was not the case and so this was how it was here.”
In terms of our No.2 ranked Men’s Doubles pairing Chris and Matthew Grimley, Ingo believes this has been a spell of undoubted promise being turned into impressive results by the 23-year-olds: “If you call the Chinese Taipei (W: Lin Yu Chieh & Su Li Wei 19-21, 27-25, 21-19) pairing qualifiers then you are almost underselling them. They have played quite a few tournaments in Europe and they are one of those up and coming pairs who don’t have a ranking which reflects their performance level.
“But they won the Irish Open last year beating the twins in the semis in straight sets and we knew that it would be a tough task so the performance level the twins produced in that match was really good.
“Also it was 73-minutes so it was a long tough battle but they kept it up and finished the stronger. That was good to see as they have had a few tough battles and not come out on top so they really deserved this win.
“They also carried it into the second round against the All England champs of 2022 (L: Fikri & Maulana 21-17, 20-22, 19-21) and only lost 21-19 in the third and they really had their chances.
“So they played two matches at probably almost the highest level they have produced and that was really positive. Really the twins have upped their game over these last few weeks and this should absolutely bolster their performance.”
Turning his attention to the Women’s Singles, Ingo has no doubt that Scottish No.1 Kirsty Gilmour is within an ace of her best form after a series of close-run matches against top-end world class performers just fell against her: “When you look at this spell then after the European Teams, where she was starting from Kirsty had been ill and then she has played five tournaments in a row where we have just had a little something missing but it is just a matter of time before it all falls into Kirsty’s favour again,” said Ingo.
He continued: “Kirsty’s tournament (in Orleans, France) was a bit on and off with some very good spells and then some periods that were not as strong and against Clara Azurmendi (W: 20-22, 22-20, 21-11) she perhaps should have won a bit more comfortably.
“In the first set she was up 20-15 and should have closed it out and that would have given her the straight sets win and then a similar thing happened in the second round against Yvonne Li (L: 21-21, 21-11, 19-21).
“In the first set Kirsty was up 20-18 and lost and in the third she was 13-7 and lost. So Kirsty is producing really good performance levels in major parts of the game but there is just that little bit missing to get things over the line.”
In the Mixed Doubles the European swing ended with another standout result with Adam Hall & Julie MacPherson defeating Commonwealth Games silver medallists Marcus Ellis and Lauren Smith 21-19, 22-22, 21-17 after previous losses at the European Mixed Teams and the Commonwealth Games semi-finals.
Assessing this Ingo said: “I was really pleased for Adam and Julie and it was a really good win and a very important result after they had lost to the English the last couple of times and it was an interesting challenge in terms of playing style.
“So in finding the solution and getting the win this was great and again at over 70-minutes it was a challenging battle and then the next day they came out and played well although in the later stages they lost that bit of freshness against the Indonesians (L: Maulana & Marwah 21-17, 16-21, 11-21) who took advantage, and it didn’t go our way.
“But this was something to build on and if you want to go really deep in these tournaments you have to be able not to drop off the next day but this has been a very good base.
“I’m sure the level they had in the first round and the beginning of the second match is something that will lift confidence levels for Adam and Julie.”
For three-time National Champion Callum Smith it has been a frustrating period of injury issues but at last he will be returning to action later this week as Ingo revealed: “There were some tournaments like the Polish which Callum would have played but he has had back problems, missed training and as a result we had to focus on his recovery as opposed to playing tournaments during this spell.
“But I am pleased to share that Callum will be returning to action at the Dutch International later this week.” (V: Christian Faust KJÆR, Denmark).
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