Lauren Determined to Learn from Her Experiences

By RJ Mitchell

BY any standards the last few months have represented a bit of a rollercoaster ride for Lauren Middleton.

From playing the starring role in the European Women’s Team Championship Qualifiers against Estonia where she clinched the decisive singles which booked a place in the finals there was then the disappointing low of coming up just short in her defence of the Scottish National singles championship after an epic three-set final defeat to Rachel Sugden.

Worse was to come when a Grade One adductor brevis injury in the opening singles of the Europeans sidelined her from the action almost before it had become.

Not surprising then that looking back Lauren admits she has learned a lot in terms of dealing with the slings and arrows of outrageous fortunes in these last few months.

Invaluable Experience:

Reflecting on this the Scotland international shared: “There has been a lot to learn from over the last few months.

“After winning all my matches in Azerbaijan in the qualis I was looking forward to taking the next step and playing in the finals against these top countries and really testing myself.

“In terms of the women’s team, we are a very close group so it was probably as good a moment as I’ve had in getting us over the line and qualifying for the finals.

“Then after I had to pull out of that first game at the finals I really wanted to play the next one but I needed to be sensible because if I had then who knows how bad it could have turned out. It was just extremely frustrating and I was so disappointed.

“But when you look at how long Callum (Smith) was out for with injury it would have been crazy to try and play on and be out for months.

“On top of that there was the nationals final and I was extremely disappointed as I wanted to defend my title and going into the final I felt like my game was in good shape and I had an excellent mindset.

“I felt like I executed my game plan really well in the first set and particularly in the first to 11 but something in my mentality and tactics shifted and I couldn’t pinpoint why that happened.

“While Rachel (Sugden) seemed to step up and was the opposite, Rachel played very well and there were a lot of things to learn from that match.

“So there have been an awful lot of things to take on board from over the last few months that will all stand me in good stead going forward.

“But now I am good and just looking forward to putting a positive training base together and just reset and kick -on and get the ball rolling again.”

Going Dutch:

When it comes to bouncing back Lauren has already returned to competitive action in what she admitted was as much a test of her mental resolve as it was her physical fitness and she said: “For a Grade One injury it is typically four weeks you need to rest, so I wasn’t able to train and I was just doing rehab work and trying to strengthen around the area.

“Apart from that I managed a couple of skill sessions towards the end of the four weeks but then I decided to give the Dutch a go and I went into that with very little preparation.

“So before the Dutch I had two proper training sessions but I decided if I were pain free I would give it a go and see how it went.

“Luckily enough I was pain free and although my fitness levels were a problem I actually beat the Dutch girl (W: Flora Wang: 21-13, 21-9) I had to pull out against in the Europeans and I won that comfortably in two sets which I was really pleased with but also a bit annoyed with at the same time!

“Then my second round against a Malaysian (L: Eng Ler Qi: 21-13, 17-21, 12-21) was a tough one and I lost that in three sets. I won the first set and knew I had to win the second because of my lack of fitness but I didn’t quite manage it.

“But I wasn’t too disappointed given the fact I’d had virtually no preparation and that girl went on to the main draw semi-finals before actually losing to the eventual winner.

“So there wasn’t much more I could have asked from that tournament, but 100% there were a lot of positives to take.

“Really I had been quite nervous given I didn’t know where I was physically in terms of lunging and I actually had avoided doing defensive movements in the couple of sessions that I did manage.

“So there were question marks and to be fair everything was good but I just didn’t have the stamina.

“So there are no issues, maybe a couple of niggles, but they are all good and I am fully fit and have had two full weeks of proper training and it is going well.”

Next Up:

Looking forward Lauren is determined to build a strong base for next season and she shared: “The next tournament for me is Slovenia at the end of April so I have some time to get back to full fitness and where I was before the injury.

“The big thing is the physical side of things, which was something I had wanted to work on anyway as I felt that when I played against really good players I just physically tailed off against them and couldn’t push on when it mattered.

“So I just want to build that strength and stamina base up.”