By RJ Mitchell
ANGUS MELDRUM has shared that his Yonex Estonian International qualifying campaign has only made him even more determined to make a successful transition from junior to senior ranks.
The 19 year-old is in his first full season campaigning as a senior and was in Tallinn last week attempting to negotiate the perils of the qualifiers in the Estonian capital.
Following a fine victory in the Men’s Singles over Egypt’s Ali Ahmed El Khateeb (21-16, 21-17), Angus was defeated by Kevin Arokia Walter (7-21, 11-21), who went on to make the quarter-finals of the main draw.
In the Mixed Doubles, Angus partnered Rachel Sugden to progress through the qualification rounds. However, our Scots lost out to experienced Spaniards Ruben Garcia & Lucia Rodriguez (21-18, 16-21, 12-21) in the main draw.
All of which provided an experience that the young Ayrshire man admitted has given him plenty of learning points: “The big difference (between juniors and seniors) is the physicality of the rallies. In junior singles the rallies are a lot shorter and if someone has nice shots they can end the rally quite quickly but in seniors everyone is so solid, consistent, and coming out of juniors you aren’t used to that,” explained Angus.
He continued: “So you have to change your game style and get used to hanging in for long hard matches with players who know what they are doing. So I’m looking to play Futures, International Series and Challenge and also to keep training hard and learn as much as I can this year.
“It has been quite a big step up for me in my first season in the seniors but my ranking has come quite a long way since my first tournament back in July at Bordeaux in the Nouvelle Aquitaine Future Series.
“I lost the first round to a player from Thailand although it was close. But in the juniors it is a level playing field and then you go up to the seniors where everyone is experienced and they have been doing it all for a long time.”
As Angus admitted his defeat by the USA’s Kevin Arokia Walter brought home the sheer physicality needed to make it on the international stage: “Physically he was that bit stronger than me and a bit older with it but I need to improve my power and that is possibly the biggest thing I need to develop.
“Being able to play these long patient rallies and then have the power to finish them at the end is going to be very important for me going forward.
“There were decent rallies but I was the one to make that first mistake and he just kept going on and on.
“I also need to be able to move the shuttle around faster but also to keep it in the court but as far as the American is concerned he is one of the best players I have played and he managed to make the quarters.
“Also Walter played under the US flag but he was a good Indian junior so he had a lot of the Asian training under his belt and he was just too strong for me.”
Yet while the opposition can prove a handful so can the conditions and while it was minus 11 outside the Kalevi Sports Hall inside the venue it proved even more challenging.
As Angus explained: “I really struggled with the conditions in my first match, especially the fast shuttles but I found a way tactically to get back into the game against the Egyptian and I also started to hold the net and use the front of the court.
“He also struggled with the conditions and it was really tough for both of us to keep our lifts inside the back of the court.
“I felt like I’d hit a normal shot and it just continued to fly and fly with barely any power on it. It’s hard to say whether it was the air conditioning although it didn’t feel like that but the main thing was I managed all of it.
“So it was pleasing to overcome difficult conditions against someone I haven’t played before and get a solid win under my belt at this level.”
While Angus is still adjusting to the travel which comes with being an international badminton player, he is enjoying every moment and he said: “At the moment there is a novelty about travelling abroad and going to countries I’ve never been before. Maybe that will wear off but hopefully not and I’m really enjoying it.
“But you turn up to a tournament and the first match is really tough and there is always someone better than you next up.
“In Scotland you can ease yourself in but at this level you must be good from the start or you are done for the week.
“But it is quite good to watch all these guys as you can learn an awful lot from them.”
Next up for Angus is a training block as he begins his build up to the Scottish National Championships at the National Badminton Academy, Scotstoun from February 2nd to 4th.
The Dundonald born player said: “Next I’m looking to crack on and get some good training done. We did train over Christmas but obviously there were breaks so I’m looking to hit it hard and try and do well at the Nationals.
“I need to develop my sharpness in the front court and also to develop my touch and variation to set myself up to win rallies is also going to be important as you can’t just rely on your opponent to make mistakes. So there is plenty to work on.
“Last year I made the quarter-finals and lost to Matthew Waring in straight sets but it was a good match and if I can I’d like to do even better this year.”
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