Scotland narrowly missed out on qualification for the final stages of the European Mixed Team Championships over the weekend, finishing second in Group 2 of the qualifying event held in Ciorescu, Moldova.
Defeat to a strong Russian team ended their hopes but a young team showed its potential with three good performances, including a good showing against Russia and wins over Ukraine and hosts Moldova.
The withdrawal of Adam Hall on the eve of the event due to a sprained ankle meant that only seven players travelled to Moldova.
Three of those players – Christopher and Matthew Grimley and Ciara Torrance – were making their international debuts and all three were involved in Scotland’s opening 3-2 victory over Ukraine.
Only Matthew Grimley was able to open his Scotland account with a win – partnering Alex Dunn in the men’s doubles to comfortably beat Valeriy Atrashchenkov and Danylo Bosniuk 21-14 21-12 to secure Scotland’s third win of the tie and overall victory.
But the nature of defeat for the other two debutants – a 21-9 19-21 21-16 reverse for Christopher Grimley to Bosniuk in the singles and a 7-21 21-18 21-18 loss for Torrance and Eleanor O’Donnell in the last match of the tie – showed they have what it takes to compete at this level.
Dunn and Julie MacPherson had claimed a hard-fought 21-19 17-21 21-16 win in the opening match of the tie and Kirsty Gilmour beat Maria Ulitina 21-18 22-20 in the women’s singles.
Against Moldova, defeat for Christopher Grimley in the singles initially put Scotland on the back foot, but Gilmour won her women’s singles to level the tie and from there the young Scots were always on top.
A second win for Alex Dunn and Matthew Grimley was followed by women’s doubles success for O’Donnell and Torrance, before Dunn returned to the court with MacPherson to win the mixed doubles and claim a 4-1 win for Scotland.
In the final match against Russia Dunn and MacPherson couldn’t get Scotland off to a winning start, losing 30-29 21-13 before Christopher Grimley went down 21-13 21-13 in the men’s singles.
Gilmour’s three-set win over Evgeniya Kosetskaya made the score-line 2-1, but when Matthew Grimley lost his 100% record of wins for Scotland in the men’s doubles, the Russians had an unassailable 3-1 lead.
That became a 4-1 victory when Ekaterina Bolatova and Alina Davletova won their women’s doubles clash with O’Donnell and Torrance, sending a strong Russian team through to the Mixed Team finals in Copenhagen next year.
Full results are at www.tournamentsoftware.com