Angus Determined to Succeed In Sickness and In Health

BY RJ Mitchell

ANGUS MELDRUM believes that his run to the final round of qualifying in last week’s Portugal International Championships is concrete proof of progress.

Despite being struck down with a flu virus on the eve of the tournament the 19-year-old refused to call off and bravely battled past Belgian and Maltese opposition before coming up just short against an old German rival in the final main draw qualifier.

Angus’ run in Caldas da Rainha came on the back of his impressive appearance in the final of the Men’s Singles at the recent Scottish National Championships and it was that which the teenager used as a crucial inspiration as he battled against the flu.

No Longer An Outsider:

Reflecting on this Angus explained: “Even if I had been well I would have met expectations, but coming into it and struggling physically that took the pressure off a bit as I knew I had a decent draw, yet at the same time that I could easily go out first round.

“So, I actually watched my final from the Nationals with Callum (Smith) before my matches last week. I was just feeling so bad that I wanted to picture myself playing really well and try to get myself in a good head space.

“So I watched the first set of the final with Calum just to reinforce that I could play at this level. I think it worked as I started the first two matches really well and it lifted me mentally.

“So to push through illness and produce a couple of decent wins shows that I do deserve to be in these tournaments.

“Also it’s not like occasional good draws, every time recently I’ve been winning one or two matches at least, so that really shows I’m making progress.

“What that means is I’m not an outsider anymore, as maybe when I started playing I was feeling like I was bottom of the pack, but now I feel like I’m definitely making steps in all these events.”

Important Victories:

In the opening round Angus defeated Belgium’s Van Delsen (W: 21-16, 17-21, 21-14) before following that up with a straight sets success against Malta’s Abela (W: 21-11, 23-21) and for the Scot there were distinct positives to take from these victories.

As he shared: “So I was down 11-7 in the third against the Belgian and I was struggling with a bad cough and mentally it was also tough but I managed to find a way to keep pushing and the last 10 minutes I really stepped my game up.

“I just said to myself: ‘I’m not losing this.’ Cut out the mistakes, lifted the pace and just got the job done.

“Then against the Maltese in the first set he struggled with the conditions in the hall but then in the second set he started to put more pressure on me and had four game points at 20-17 and 21-21 but I managed to find my game when it mattered.

“Abela is actually ranked quite highly, he had been as high as 150 and is now 259 and he’d had the bye in the first round, so it was a good win, again made better by the fact I wasn’t feeling too clever.”

Falling at The Last:

Ultimately Germany’s Sanjeevi Padmanabhan Vasudevan, who is something of an old nemesis for Angus, proved just too strong (L:14-21, 13-21): “Vasudevan was from India originally but has been in Germany for quite a while and was one of the top guys in my age group in the juniors.

“When I went to the European juniors he was seeded fifth in my age group and when I played him I really struggled to hit the court as the shuttles were crazy fast whereas the day before they had been almost on the slow side.

“So it was all about who could hold the net better and as he had really good deceptions he was winning that battle. I knew he was going to be tough as he beat a Malaysian in the last round of qualifiers and then made the last-16 of the main draw, so he was very good.”



As Angus admitted the challenges presented last week are all part of a badminton player’s lot and he shared: “I think I’m over the worst of it now but I didn’t train at all from Friday to Monday before the Portuguese, I had all my stuff booked and I just had to focus.

“Mentally it’s tough to work hard when you are physically struggling and it hurts, but you have these ups and downs and you just need to find a way through them.”

Key Improvements:

Next up for Angus is a short training block before he gets back on the international circuit with tournaments in Malta, Slovakia, and Finland in April.

As the Scottish Men’s Singles runner-up admitted he has several key parts of his game he is determined to improve: “I have stuff to work on with my overhead attack as I need to add a little bit of variation from the back and also just being a bit more of a threat with my attack – so being able to hit down and keep the pressure on rather than backing off,” explained Angus.

He continued: “It can’t be all about the smash as when it lacks power and penetration and your opponent is ready for it then it’s always coming back against good players.

“So if you have variation you can change the direction and the angle and you can use your smash but if you’re always smashing you won’t get through.

“So if you have good steep drops and cuts then you can use your smash the next time and hopefully it’s then a winner.

“Also deception is something I’m not great at but when I played the German I just couldn’t read him. Most of the time after a couple of shots when you haven’t got a read you start picking it up but with Vasudevan I just didn’t pick him up.

“He was still catching me and holding it so much later. I’d see him going up for it and I was thinking he wouldn’t go down the line and then he did and it was just hard to get a read on him.”

Developing A Game Style:

Reflecting on the strengths of his game Angus admits that for him speed can be lethal: “I don’t have the most power or deception but I’ve always had decent speed and recently that has been an advantage I’ve had over the opposition.

“I have decent speed offensively and defensively, so even if I don’t hit as hard as some of the older guys I am really fast onto the next one.”

Training Day:       

A dedicated young player whose hunger to improve is palpable, Angus provided fascinating insight into some key work from his training day, as he revealed: “At the start of a session it is like speedwork, shadowing and multi-shuttle all of which gets you to move super-quickly and then we go into our normal stuff.

“So most sessions we have something based on max speeds and improving our top ends in terms of movement.

“Multi-shuttle is when there is a feeder on the other side and they have anywhere from six to 20 shuttles up there arm and they hit the shuttle once to you and you hit it back anywhere, so it’s not like in a rally when you hit the same shuttle.

“Basically they are hitting every shuttle and you need to hit it back, the feeder is then playing faster than game speed, so when you play a match it is almost like it is slow.

“Shadowing you just focus on your movement and footwork.”