Scotland name Sudirman Cup squad

NEW Yonex Scottish National women’s doubles champion Eleanor O’Donnell is in line for her first cap after today being named in Scotland’s squad to compete in the Sudirman Cup in Australia’s Gold Coast from May 21-28.

The 18-year-old from Beith is also the youngest of the eight players but for five of them it will be a new experience as only Kieran Merrilees, Martin Campbell and Kirsty Gilmour have played in the world mixed team championships before.

Those three were in the team which won all four of their matches in the 2013 Sudirman Cup in Kuala Lumpur when the Scots defeated higher-ranked opposition in Russia, USA, Sweden and the Netherlands to top Group Two and finish 13th overall.

This year’s squad, who will be led by new head coach Tat Meng Wong, also includes two players who made their senior Scotland debuts only last year in Mauchline’s Adam Hall and Edinburgh’s Julie MacPherson.

MacPherson was named in the squad three days after ending her Yonex Scottish National championships duck. She was runner-up in three finals last year and runner-up in the women’s singles final on Sunday before she and O’Donnell won the women’s doubles in a 62-minute battle with Caitlin Pringle and Rebekka Findlay.

Pringle, who is Rebekka Findlay’s regular doubles partner and was in the 2013 squad, misses out while 2016 National champion and last weekend’s runner-up Matthew Carder is also omitted as Scotland rely on just one front-line men’s singles and one women’s singles player in five-time National champion Kieran Merrilees and six-times champion Kirsty Gilmour.

However, both Findlay and MacPherson can provide singles back-up to Gilmour and can also play mixed doubles as well as women’s doubles.

Gilmour is also capable of playing the other two disciplines if necessary, having won her fourth women’s doubles title at last year’s Nationals when she partnered Findlay and last weekend won her first mixed doubles title in partnership with Patrick MacHugh, who also recaptured the men’s doubles with Campbell.

That means all eight players in the squad have won senior National titles as Hall won last year’s men’s doubles in partnership with Robert Blair, who is now on BADMINTONscotland’s coaching staff following his retirement from playing after last year’s European Championships.

Anne Smillie, BADMINTONscotland’s Chief Executive, said: “This is a young squad but Kieran and Kirsty can offer plenty of experience at international level.

“For the younger members like Eleanor and Julie it is a great opportunity to take their progress in the senior ranks to a new level.”

It is the first time Australia have staged the Sudirman Cup after winning the bid ahead of Scotland in Lima at the BWF Council meeting in November 2014.

But the BWF were so impressed with Scotland’s bid that they gave them the crown jewel of the sport in the shape of the TOTAL BWF World Championships 2017 to be staged at Glasgow’s Emirates Arena in Glasgow from August 21-27.

Scotland squad:

Martin Campbell (Edinburgh, 23 caps, Age 26)
Adam Hall (Mauchline, 6 caps, Age 20)
Patrick MacHugh (Kinross, 12 caps, Age 24)
Kieran Merrilees (Glasgow, 38 caps, Age 27)

Rebekka Findlay (Erskine, 9 caps, Age 22)
Kirsty Gilmour (Bothwell, 26 caps, Age 23)
Julie MacPherson (Edinburgh, 3 caps, Age 19)
Eleanor O’Donnell (Beith, 0 caps, Age 18)