ROSS WHYTE REFLECTS ON HIS TEAM’S FIRST SEASON ON MEN’S CIRCUIT
The 2019/20 season for Ross Whyte and his new line up of Robin Brydone, Duncan McFadzean and Euan Kyle proved to be a breakthrough year for the young rink. The British and Scottish Curling Performance Foundation supported rink made it to eleven play-offs in 12 events in their first year playing full-time at senior level, claiming two titles along the way.
“At the start of start of the season we made the decision to step up to the men’s tour and it was definitely the right thing to do,” said Whyte, who is currently completing his second year at the University of Stirling.
“We had all played together as slightly different combinations at different times through the junior ranks, so we knew we had a good team when we got together at the start of the season.
“Getting access to all the support services as a Performance Foundation team meant we got fitter and stronger, got to many more events which helped us climb the rankings and overall was a massive boost and was influential to how well our season went.
“We worked hard and worked well together and we also had a bit of luck at some competitions, but everyone needs that sometimes and if things didn’t go our way we stuck to our processes. We had a game plan for every match and we decided we would give our all in every game we played to see where that might take us and it got us to a lot of play-offs.
“In Bern we went undefeated until the final against Retornaz. Our coach Tom Brewster really helped us at that event and that result really kicked us on which gave us a lot of confidence going to Prague the following weekend where we were super pleased to get our first men’s tour title.
“We knew we had been playing well and getting that win under our belts gave us the self belief that we were not just capable of reaching the play-offs but could also go on and win events and we were over the moon.
“After that, going back to my home town of Dumfries represented a great opportunity. It is always nice to go back and compete there as it is a great event, but to show how much we had progressed was a really nice feeling. We played one of our best games of the season in that final and it felt so good to be able to demonstrate that we were getting better all the time.”
The Scottish Championships was the only event at which Whyte’s quartet did not reach the play-offs, but they still gained a lot from the experience.
“In contrast to Dumfries, we didn’t have our best week at the Scottish in Perth,” he said.
“We had a tough start losing out in a game which could have gone either way, so I guess that put us on the back foot a bit. From there we played ok and got some wins but I think we could have got more out of the week if we had really turned up.
“That said, fourth place is not a horrendous spot be in at the end of the week and the three teams that played the best really deserved those top three places. Bruce Mouat’s boys were all exceptional and producing that consistent form for the week was impressive and they deserved that title. For us we knew we had learned a lot and we will now work even harder for it next year.
“Our last scheduled event of the season was the Aberdeen International. We really wanted to play our best and knew it would be a great test up against seven World Championship teams in the field and we really wanted to keep climbing the rankings as much as we could before we finished the year.
“Already things were starting to change around the world and there were strict protocols in place at Aberdeen, with the constant cleaning of curling stone handles and adapted handshakes to avoid contact at the end of each game. Then we saw the announcement that the World Champs had been cancelled and there was a lot of emotion.
“We were surrounded by teams who were due to compete in Glasgow, who had been preparing for it and had to start changing their plans.”
Having been chosen to be Team Mouat’s alternate again and been with them when they secured their first European title at the first time of asking, Whyte was disappointed not to support them at the Worlds.
“There was a lot of excitement around the event and I was also very excited about the prospect of helping them to get that World gold. We all felt they had a great chance and with home crowds it all looked set for a great week,” he said.
“It was heartbreaking that they were not able to produce the great curling we knew they were capable of on home ice and gutting for everyone.
“My team mate Robin (Brydone) was also taking ‘Street Curling’ to different shopping centres around the country getting everyone aware of the champs and it was great to see everyone getting behind the event, so it would have been great hosting the Worlds in Glasgow.
“It is a shame that everyone’s work into making the event a success did not come to fruition. But it does show what can be accomplished and how we can get the wider sporting public into the game and it would be good to see something come from all of that in the future.”
In spite of that disappointment in its closing weeks, Whyte has drawn huge encouragement from the 2019/20 season, however.
“Looking back we set a goal at the start of the season to get into the top 30. We were about 64th at the start and it was a good and ambitious target, but we are now 17th so we exceeded our expectations,” he noted.
“Next season we are pushing to get into the top 15 and to start securing Slam spots which bring another degree of difficulty and challenge, but we want to be in that crowd which will help us push on further.
“For now we are all training at home, we are all sticking to a training routine and putting in maximum effort to keep us on track for next season. For me that is using bags of old text books to do my reps so we will all just improvise and use what we have available at home.
“We will do the same again when we get back on ice – focus on what we are doing as a team and not on others and see where that takes us. We are not looking to follow, but we are looking to lead.”
KW Fall Classic – Semi Final
Moosehead Open – Quarter Final
Stu Sells Toronto Tankard – Quarter Final
Curling Masters Champery – Quarter Final
Grand Prix Bern Inter Curling Challenge – Final
Prague Classic – Champions
Red Deer Curling Classic – Semi Final
Ashley HomeStore Curling Classic – Semi Final
Dumfries Challenger Series – Champions
Perth Masters – Semi Final
Scottish Championships – 4th
Aberdeen International – Semi Final