February

Yonex Italian Junior day 1

Sarah Sidebottom is in for one of the toughest tests of her young career to date having battled her way to a tie against the YONEX Italian Junior top seed.

The 17-year-old is one of two Scots into the second round in Milan, with Lauren Middleton also returning for the weekend’s action after an exciting first day in Italy.

And for Sidebottom there is a testing but thrilling challenge to come in the shape of Maria Delcheva, the Bulgarian top seed who received a bye in her first round.

But the Scot has already battled through one match, overcoming Italy’s Chiara Passeri 21-13 21-18 in an impressive first-round showing.

The two had started largely on level footing but two runs of five consecutive points saw Sidebottom wrestle the early advantage, one she was not to give up in claiming the opening game.

The second was a much closer affair though, with the Italian forcing the game back to 17-17 before the Scottish starlet held her nerve to reach the second round.

She’ll be joined by Middleton after she too fought to a straight games victory over a home player, beating Maja Fallaha 21-14 21-12.

A tense start ensured the pair were locked at 6-6, only for Middleton to put a superb run together, winning 12 of the next 14 points to seize the initiative before closing out the opener.

She carried that momentum into the second game too, racing into an 8-1 lead from which her Italian opponent was not able to fight back.

The Scottish pair also teamed up in the women’s doubles, though their singles success did not transfer to the pairs event.

But it was not without fight that they went down to Slovenia’s Petra Polanc and Bulgaria’s Delcheva – the latter being Sidebottom’s singles opponent on Saturday.

Pushing their opponents all the way, it was no surprise to see the first game go right to the wire at 19-19, with Polanc and Delcheva just about doing enough to prevail 21-19.

And the second was just the same as the lead continued to change hands before Middleton and Sidebottom forced their way to 18-18, only for three straight points for their opponents seeing their doubles campaign come to an end in Milan.

Results and draws at www.tournamentsoftware.com