Posted on 6th December 2023
By RJ Mitchell
IN part 2 of his preview of the 2024 European Men’s and Women’s Team Championship Qualification, Badminton Scotland’s Head of Performance Ingo Kindervater has turned his attention on our men’s team’s hopes of success in Milton Keynes.
The Scottish men open their Group 5, Subgroup 1 campaign against Ukraine at 2pm tomorrow having been boosted by the return of National Singles champion Callum Smith and the recent Grimley twins victories at the Irish Open and Welsh International.
With Ingo taking the coaching reins down south while Robert Blair is at the helm in Azerbaijan with the ladies team, a feast of top quality team action will unfold over the next few days with qualification for the finals in Lodz, Poland next February up for grabs.
Looking forward to the action, Ingo admitted his excitement: “I am a big fan of team tournaments and in the European qualifiers we get the chance to compete as a team and that is nice for the young ones as we have a very good team spirit.
“So I am keen to see them all sticking together and competing as a team with the other nations. Obviously I do see the players every day but for me the exciting bit is that I am driven by everyday process and every tournament is an opportunity to put that work into action during competition and see how it progresses and I am really looking forward to this aspect over the next few days.”
Last week at the Welsh International Championships, Callum Smith made his return to the competitive match court after an absence of just under six months following a torn ligament and bone bruising to his right ankle.
Callum claimed victories over Welsh and Polish opposition before finally falling at the ultimate main draw qualification hurdle in an epic three-set tussle with seeded Frenchman Amaury Lievre losing 19-21 in the third.
All of which Ingo has no doubt is a significant positive for the European Team Championships, and he said: “Callum was fairly close to winning the match against the Frenchman as he was 10-4 up in the second and a game to the good and maybe lost his rhythm a little bit.
“But it was his first tournament in a very long time and what was important was he got the matches in so in terms of getting some match fitness it was very good for Callum.
“We are looking at what Callum is doing at the moment; it is not about has he won or lost but that he is getting the matches in and what he is learning from them and Callum has done exceptionally well with his rehabilitation programme.
“So all the steps in getting back to training and then progressing it when he got back and then being match ready. I only have to say the best things about Callum in this, he was super disciplined, very professional and he beat his schedule, as he has done it so well.
“But there is still this last step as he finds his match fitness by playing tournaments again and that is a step that is not to be underestimated but we are very happy he got these matches in before this week.”
With Matt and Chris Grimley having claimed back to back title wins by following up their triumph at the Irish Open by annexing the Welsh Championships, our doubles contingent (including Alex Dunn, Adam Hall, Jack MacGregor, Adam Pringle) has also been boosted.
Reflecting on this Ingo shared: “It was great to see the twins backing up the fine result in Ireland but especially also the performance level of Ireland with another tournament win. This just underlines that they’ve taken a step forward and will surely help to bolster their confidence levels further.
“But it is not just that they’ve won but how they did that. Maybe for a while they were a little bit stuck in developing their game plan and how they got it together and they have worked on this and it has really come together very well.
“Almost all the little details and some general things just clicked and that is the reward of them really hanging in there with the process when the results had not been what they had hoped for.
“My thoughts on this is that is what high class sports are about in terms of you must retain focus in the process.
“So the reward was at the end of it and the way they did it for me was more interesting than the result itself.”
This week will also be a huge week for 17-year-old Matthew Waring who will likely make his Scottish International senior debut from a singles ensemble which includes Josh Apiliga, James Robertson and Callum Smith.
Assessing this Ingo said: “Matthew is one of a group of young ones we are looking forward to seeing develop and he has been the one from the new intake to join the team at the Europeans and obviously I am curious and looking forward to seeing him at Milton Keynes as part of our team.
“Recently in Slovakia, Matthew had some very good performances in a junior tournament and some of his level in Wales was very good but it is all about the process for the youngsters and the whole thing is about the development process and integrating with the group.
“It is nice to see them on this stage but almost more important to see how they develop in training as that is also where Matthew laid the foundation for these good performances.
“It is the reward of the good work in training when they play well in competition.”