Gilmour back to tackle singles and mixed at Yonex Scottish Nationals

THE best badminton players in Scotland will head for Perth on Friday week to compete in the Yonex Scottish National Championships with Commonwealth and European silver medallist Kirsty Gilmour topping the line-up at the Bell’s Sports Centre.

The five-times women’s singles champion and top seed will be playing in her first tournament since the Olympic Games, having been sidelined for the first half of the season following knee surgery.

Last year’s beaten finalist and second seed Julie MacPherson, who was also runner-up in the women’s doubles and mixed doubles, and 2014 and 2015 singles finalist Holly Newall will be among the players trying to deny Gilmour title No. 6.

But Gilmour will also try for a first mixed doubles title when she partners Patrick MacHugh in a strong line-up. The mixed doubles will provide the Friday night action on February 3 and Gilmour can expect to be on court on all three days of the Nationals as she seeks vital match practice before returning to the international circuit in the countdown to the TOTAL BWF World Championships 2017 in Glasgow from August 21-27.

One thing is guaranteed: There will be new names on the trophy following the retirement of Imogen Bankier and Robert Blair.

MacPherson and Martin Campbell will be looking to go one better than last year’s runners-up spot but they are only second seeds behind Adam Hall and Eleanor O’Donnell. Alex Dunn teams up with Rebekka Findlay and Christopher Grimley with Ciara Torrance as the joint 3/4 seeds but unseeded MacHugh and Gilmour can’t be discounted.

Reigning men’s singles champion Matthew Carder and four-times champion Kieran Merrilees lead the men’s singles line-up but 2016 semi-finalist Ben Torrance, along with Dunn and the Grimley twins, Christopher and Matthew, will be out to make an impact.

Merrilees is top seed with Carder at No. 2 while Torrance and Dunn are joint 3/4 seeds.

The Grimleys will also be keen to test themselves in the men’s doubles where Campbell and MacHugh will be eager to regain the title they won two years ago. Last year they lost in the final to Hall and Blair.

Mauchline’s Hall, who reached the final of the Scottish Open Grand Prix with England’s Peter Mills in November, will be bidding to retain his title in partnership with Motherwell’s Dunn and they are top seeds ahead of Campbell and MacHugh.

But also watch out for 2010 and 2011 champions Keith Turnbull and Jamie Neill, who are back to try again for a third title together.

In the women’s doubles Rebekka Findlay will be aiming to retain the title she won last year with Gilmour. This year Findlay will be back with regular partner Caitlin Pringle as she looks for a second National title. They are No.1 seeds with last year’s runners-up MacPherson and Eleanor O’Donnell seeded to meet them in the final.

Tickets for the Yonex Scottish Nationals are on sale now or are available at the Bell’s Sports Centre over the three tournament days of February 3, 4 and 5.

The Yonex Scottish National Championships are staged at Bell’s Sports Centre in Perth courtesy of Perth and Kinross Council. BADMINTONscotland are also indebted to Yonex UK, Live Active Leisure, Perth Common Good Fund, the management and staff at Bell’s Sports Centre, and BADMINTONscotland Court Officials and volunteers.

Men’s Singles (Holder: Matthew Carder, South Queensferry)
1. Kieran Merrilees (Glasgow)
2. Matthew Carder (South Queensferry)
3/4 Alex Dunn (Motherwell); Ben Torrance (Paisley)

Women’s Singles (Holder: Kirsty Gilmour, Glasgow)
1. Kirsty Gilmour (Glasgow)
2. Julie MacPherson (Edinburgh)

Men’s Doubles (Holders: Robert Blair, Glasgow/Adam Hall (Mauchline)
1. Alex Dunn (Motherwell)/Adam Hall (Mauchline)
2. Martin Campbell (Edinburgh)/Patrick MacHugh (Kinross)

Women’s Doubles (Holders: Rebekka Findlay, Erskine & Kirsty Gilmour, Glasgow)
1. Rebekka Findlay (Erskine)/Caitlin Pringle (Giffnock)
2. Julie MacPherson (Edinburgh)/Eleanor O’Donnell (Beith)

Mixed Doubles (Holders: Robert Blair, Glasgow & Imogen Bankier, Glasgow)
1. Adam Hall (Mauchline)/Eleanor O’Donnell (Beith)
2. Martin Campbell (Edinburgh)/Julie MacPherson (Edinburgh)
3/4 Alex Dunn (Motherwell)/Rebekka Findlay (Erskine); Christopher Grimley (Glasgow)/Ciara Torrance (Prestwick)

Friday Feb 3 (from 5pm): Mixed doubles up to and including semi-finals
Saturday Feb 4 (from 10am): All singles and level doubles up to and including quarter-finals
Sunday Feb 5 (from 10am): Semi-finals in singles and level doubles. From 1.45pm: All finals