Dutch Jacco Arends and Jelle Maas, one of most talented young shuttlers from Europe, showed their tremendous craft on court and remained successful in winning the men’s doubles crown at the Swedish International 2012 on Sunday in Stockholm. We spoke to the 21-year-old Jacco Arends about the Challenge tournament in Sweden, the up-coming 2013 European Mixed Team Championships in Ramenskoe, Russia and about his role models in the world of badminton.
BADMINTON EUROPE: Jacco, congratulations to your men's doubles victory in Sweden. Was it your first victory over the more experienced Bosch/Ridder?
Yes it was, although this was only the third time we played against each other in an official match. A few weeks ago, Jelle and I still lost to them in the final of the Norway International. It’s a great feeling and also a sign that we managed to improve over the last couple of weeks.
BADMINTON EUROPE: If you practice together against them who normally wins?
Last season they almost always beat us. However, this season I believe we divided the wins and losses equally.
BADMINTON EUROPE: What are you doing with the prize money ?
I’ll probably be sensible and save up. Our Member Association Badminton Nederland has a lot of problems with funding. I want to be able to invest in my development if my Association is no longer able to support me enough.
BADMINTON EUROPE: What does the European Mixed Team Championships mean to you?
We still don’t know which players are going to Moscow. We will just have to wait and see. Team tournaments are always special. Going out there to play for your own nation is always an honour and a good feeling.
BADMINTON EUROPE: Is there any special preparation for this event?
Actually there isn’t. We build up to each tournament. So there will be a regular preparation like always.
BADMINTON EUROPE: What do you say to the draw for your team?
Arends: We are playing Luxembourg, Hungary and Switzerland in the group stage. We should win all of these matches and end at the top of the group. After these matches, the tournament will get more tough. We will have to look at it one match at the time. Of course, a medal is what we want, but I expect that will be hard to achieve. We are still going for one, what’s the point of competing otherwise?
BADMINTON EUROPE: We have heard some rumors that your NOC cuts off some money for “Badminton Nederlands”. Is it true?
Arends: Yes, that’s true. The NOC only wants to invest in sports which have the best shot at winning medals in four years at the Olympic Games in Brasil. They decided that badminton isn’t one of these so-called ‘high-potential sports.’
BADMINTON EUROPE: And what does it mean for badminton in your country?
We are losing our accommodation and a lot of funding on top of that. Currently we are looking at other area’s where we can train. For me this could mean I have to move out of my apartment I moved in a year ago. Our association has got to be really creative now with the money they have and start spending it wisely.
BADMINTON EUROPE: You are one of the young guns in European badminton. What does it take to challenge the dominant Asians in the men’s doubles event.
Asians are a lot faster and stronger than we Europeans. Although my partner Jelle Maas has lightning quick reflexes too. Europeans have to play smarter and with a lot of skills. Tactics are vital!
BADMINTON EUROPE: Do you have any role model in badminton?
I have always looked up to Indonesian players. I love their laid back style on court. Nova Widianto was one of my favourites. Unfortunately he quitted a year ago. Currently I am really impressed by Carsten Mogensen. I think he is one of the smartest and most skillful doubles players out there. He is also really powerful, even though he isn’t the biggest of men. As I am skinny as well, there is still hope for me left to hit some bigger smashes in the future (laughs).
Visit the official website of Jacco Arends by clicking here
Photo by Sven Heise.