Hemming Stallwood 1200x410 1

Callum Hemming and Steven Stallwood are relishing taking on the world’s elite and believe the lessons they have learned in recent weeks will stand them in good stead for their upcoming World Championship bow.

The pair have been in action across the continent of late, taking in the Denmark Open, French Open and HYLO Open as they continue to build their experience on the international circuit.

The trips to Paris and Saarbrücken saw Hemming and Stallwood navigate their first round ties before coming up against pairs ranked in the world’s top 15, with Ong Yew Sin and Teo Ee Yi proving too strong at the French before Fajar Alfian and Muhammad Rian Ardianto prevailed in Germany.

Despite results not going their way, the English pair have taken great heart from their performances at the top level and hope to continue their improvement over the remainder of what has already been a year to remember.

“It has been successful on the whole,” said Hemming, who is also part of a promising mixed doubles pairing with Jessica Pugh.

“We’ve been going in with no expectation, as they have been quite high-level tournaments, and we’re still quite a new partnership so we were keen to see where our level was at.

“It was a chance to play some of the best players in the world, which we did, and we really challenged them while learning so much.

“The top players are so clinical, you get away with nothing. You play a wrong or loose shot, it just gets punished so quickly.

“The quality needs to be so high for such a long period of time and if not, you get blown away by these top pairs.

“It’s also about getting comfortable playing them – the first time we played people at that level, it was a bit of a shock as we weren’t used to it.

“But we’ve realised we can compete and play at that level, it’s now just about just doing it for a longer period of time.”

Stallwood, who earned his first senior England cap at the Sudirman Cup earlier this year, echoed his partner’s thoughts on the test provided by the cream of the crop but also feels the gap is closing.

“You learn so much more when you’re on court playing than you would do watching them from a crowd,” he said.

“The toughest were Ong and Teo. They made us bleed out points, there weren’t a lot of clear winners – they didn’t do anything special with their shots, they just put it back over the net time and time again.

“They were so relaxed and that goes for all the top players. They are not necessarily quicker or more powerful than us, but the shot quality and variation is a lot better than the level we’re used to.

“But it gives us a lot of confidence knowing we can play these tournaments, play these top 10 pairs and do quite well.”

Hemming and Stallwood’s chemistry on court began at a young age, with the pair – who grew up 10 minutes away from each other in Milton Keynes – first linking up from the age of nine.

But it was only a reshuffle of English doubles pairings which led to them teaming back up at the start of the year – and before long they were fulfilling a shared childhood ambition by competing at the YONEX All England Open.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Callum Hemming (@callumhem)

“We must have been 10 or 11 when we first went to the All England and we went religiously for a few years after that,” Hemming said.

“As we got older, we’d go by ourselves for a day trip to Birmingham and we’d be starstruck by the players we’d see.

“We’d watch it thinking ‘we’d love to go and play that’. To have now played it together, it was a dream come true.”

The World Championships is another bucket list tournament the 22-year-olds will soon be able to tick off, with the duo heading to Huelva after trips to the Welsh and Scottish Opens.

They go into all three competitions with confidence and believe their close friendship off court is helping them deal with the increasingly challenging contests on it.

“We spend so much time together, it doesn’t feel like we’re forcing anything,” Stallwood said.

“In some partnerships, just because they play with each other doesn’t necessarily mean they’re friends off court but we are the opposite.”

Hemming added: “It works when we’re not playing so well, as we can be brutally honest with each other, and it works when we’re playing well as you can tell each other we’re doing good things – and it means more coming from someone who you know is playing the truth.

“We’re buzzing for our first World Championships – it’s a tournament everyone wants to play.

“Having the chance to do that is another dream come true – we’ve been training our whole lives for moments like this.”

The YONEX All England Open Badminton Championships return to Utilita Arena Birmingham with the best players from around the world from 16th – 20th March 2022.

Don’t miss out, get your tickets today.

Recent posts

Back to news