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Merrilees chasing fifth Yonex Scottish National title

Kieran Merrilees, who missed last year’s Yonex Scottish National Championships as he recovered from injury to his racket hand, will start his bid for a fifth men’s singles crown with a second-round clash against Jack Riddell or Craig Young at the Bell’s Sports Centre in Perth on Saturday.

The 2011, 2012, 2014 and 2015 winner is seeded to meet defending champion Matthew Carder in the final. Carder also has a first-round bye before a second-round test against Joshua Apiliga or Lloyd Holland.

The pick of the early contests should see 3/4 seed Ben Torrance tested by Christopher Grimley as long as the teenager comes through his opener against Brandon Tsang. Grimley’s twin brother Matthew could well be the player to come through and challenge the other 3/4 seed Alex Dunn in the last eight.

Kirsty Gilmour, returning from her long injury lay-off, will prepare for her bid to win a sixth straight women’s singles title by playing mixed doubles with Patrick MacHugh as the action gets under way on Friday. They face 3/4 seeds Dunn and Rebekka Findlay in the opening round of the mixed doubles. Gilmour knows all about Findlay’s game as they won the women’s doubles together last year.

Adam Hall and Eleanor O’Donnell are the top seeds and start their bid to become the new mixed doubles champions following the retirement of Robert Blair and Imogen Bankier when they face Gordon Thomson and Sarah Findlay. Second seeds Martin Campbell and Julie MacPherson take on Glen Lewington and Kaity Hall in their opening contest.

But Gilmour’s focus will be the women’s singles title as she launches a 2017 campaign which she hopes will bring her more success when she leads Scotland’s challenge at the TOTAL BWF World Championships from August 21-27 at Glasgow’s Emirates Arena, where she won the Commonwealth silver medal and finished runner-up at the 2013 and 2015 Scottish Open Grand Prix.

Gilmour begins her National title bid with a second-round clash against Lily Farnood or Lauren Middleton with 2014 and 2015 runner-up Holly Newall a potential semi-final obstacle while last year’s beaten finalist and second seed Julie MacPherson meets Jennifer Lafferty or Basia Grodynska in the first round.

MacPherson, who was runner-up in three events last year, partners O’Donnell in the women’s doubles as she looks to win her first National senior title. The second seeds start against Lauren Middleton and Sarah Sidebottom while top seeds Findlay and Caitlin Pringle meet Emma Cook and Viktoria Tsvetanova.

In the men’s doubles Hall, who reached the Scottish Open Grand Prix final in November, teams up with Dunn as top seeds and they will face Calum Atterbury and Robbie Patterson or Alistair Gordon and Callum MacMillan in round 1.

Hall is defending the title he won last year with Robert Blair but runners-up MacHugh and Campbell will be the big threat as the second seeds try to regain the title they won two years ago. They start with a second-round match against Swedish U17 champions Apiliga and Adam Pringle or Matthew Duguid and Jacob Reynolds.

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 will be 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.

Schedule:
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