Badminton served up one of the most memorable moments for Team Shetland in Jersey 2015 – and this year will again be a family affair.
An enthralling encounter on the mixed doubles court saw father-daughter duo Gordon Keith and Shona Mackay take silver two years ago. And more than a few supporters were lost for words…and their voices.
This time Keith will be also be taking on a coaching role.
“I’ll try and pass on my bit of knowledge to the youngsters,” he smiled.
“That’s the plan. Four of the players have been at the last island games to cut their teeth last year, we were there as well so it’s their second island games and they can only build on their experiences.”
Mental strength was important when playing at a higher standard, he said.
“You can get as fit as you want but you still have to match play and you need the skill of the other guys that are better than you to play against.
“In Shetland, we are at a standard where it’s as far as we can go unless we go down to Glasgow or Edinburgh or Aberdeen to get that experience. Caithness is a piece away but there’s some good players in Caithness as well. So we’ll hopefully get an inter-county down there.”
Keith said it was fantastic to see the youngsters coming through.
“The standard they’re at now is somewhere maybe we were 10 years older before we got to that standard,” he said.
Team manager Maurice Haining said the squad had been training hard since March.
“It’s very much a young team this time; [there are] four new players in the team that haven’t been to the island games before.
“We’ve got six that went last time,” he said.
And there are plenty of family names on the teamsheet; brother and sisters Dean and Laura Guthrie, Amy and Stuart Sineath and Keith’s younger daughter Aimee will also be competing.
Asked about the challenges that lie ahead in Sweden, Haining said: “In general terms I think the standard has gone up every time we’ve gone [to the island games].
“The team event is the first two days of the games and we’ve got a really tough draw. We’ve drawn the number one seed which is Faroe and Gotland which is the home team. We’re also in a group of three so it’s a tough ask this time.”
Meanwhile, for Audrey Leask this year’s competition will be her ninth island games.
She said the training had been going well but it was about building for the future and giving the younger players experience.
A lot of the younger players coming through were ones they had coached as youngsters, she said.
Asked about the nature of training for the different matches, she said: “I always think there’s more to be done in singles as there’s twice as much ground to cover, so there’s an element of fitness required as well.
“As far as doubles go it’s a lot of speedwork, a lot of sharpening up.
Taking a break from the net, Amy Sineath said she was excited to be making her island games debut and will be playing in the singles and doubles matches.
“Me and my partner have played a lot together, we’ve played inter-county together so we’re used to each other’s way of playing,” she said.
Asked about the mental test, she replied: “Nerves is an issue for me so I have to sit aside and calm myself down before I go on or my whole mind just goes.
“I’ve known everyone in this team my whole life, my brother is in this team as well so it’s good to have someone encouraging as well.”