Posted on 31st July 2023
Report by GSOS Graduate and SDS Player Amy Craig
Semi Finals for Scots at All England Junior
Last week twelve players from across Scotland travelled to Birmingham to compete in the inaugural All England Junior Badminton Championships.
Day One posed a number of challenging first round games in both the men’s and women’s singles. Emerging victorious in the men’s singles were Richard Adams, Josh Taylor, and Theo Johnson.
In the round of sixty-four Finlay Jack’s first game was a tense three setter with the Lothian talent proceeding to the next round following a hard-fought forty-eight minute match against English player William Kok.
More drama followed with Josh Taylor’s turnaround 17-21 21-18 21-19 win over German Florian Otto proving a highly entertaining – and nerve-wracking – watch. Theo Johnston’s beating of England’s Leon Crayford meant that three Scots advanced to the men’s singles in day two.
In the women’s singles Katrina Chan won her first round match on day two, delivering a convincing 21-16 21-8 result against Swiss Laura Vègh.
The men’s singles round of thirty two posed no easy matches with Finlay Jack losing out to number fifteenth seed Andrei Schmidt, executing a strong performance against a formidable Estonian opponent. Similarly playing well were Josh Taylor and Theo Johnston; who, drawn against the sixth and second seeds respectively, ultimately didn’t advance to the next round.
In the men’s doubles Lothian’s Finlay Jack and Theo Johnston suffered narrow defeat in a heartbreakingly close 21-15 19-21 26-28 tie against England’s Edward Davey and Sonish Hathi.
Women’s doubles saw straight set wins from both Scottish duos with Amy Craig and Eva Tremble and Ishbel McCallister and Katrina Chan winning against their English and German opponents.
The mixed doubles also saw strong performances from School of Sport pair Joe Esson and Eva Tremble and Evan Kenny and Ishbel McCallister, and both partnerships moved forward to day three.
Day three, and in the women’s singles Katrina Chan put in an absolute stormer of a shift, in a challenging match against Gianna Stiglich, resulting in the Italian third seed continuing on to the next round.
Kenny and McCallister narrowly missed out on a place in the mixed doubles quarter finals as English pair Daniel Kemp and Lucy Dodd cinched the win in a three set affair that delivered some truly amazing play.
Victory followed for Chan and McCallister in the women’s doubles; a comfortable win over Mauritians How Hong Chiara Kate and How Hong Elsa Caitlin solidifying the Scottish partnership’s place in the quarter finals later that day.
Drawn against Macarena Izquierdo and Carmen Maria Jimenez, Katrina and Ishbel supplied an aggressive yet controlled performance. Cheered on by spectating Scots, they secured the win against the Spanish third seeds in two tightly contested sets.
Sunday’s semi final against Canadian Jackie Dent and American Ella Lin was a near insurmountable ask of the Scottish dynamic duo. Dent and Lin’s previous performances across disciplines had been a class in consistency and skill. Chan and McCallister approached what was in no doubt an intimidating match with a maturity and determination.
After missing out to the eventual winners, bronze medalist Ishbel McCallister said of the experience:
“It was definitely really tough. Even creating a game plan for such a solid pair was a challenge. But lots to take away from it, we’re definitely really pleased to have reached the semi final”.
Katrina Chan, fellow Senior Squad player, offered some insightful comments about her experience of the All England Junior:
“Our match against the number three seeded Spanish pair was definitely the highlight for me. To be able to play and deliver a result in the first ever running of this event felt really good.”
Overall, the All England Junior Badminton Championships’ maiden running provided a host of new and challenging experiences for all twelve Scottish competitors. Appreciation has to extend to accompanying coaches Karen Stalker and Craig Robertson, who provided support and guidance throughout the event.