A young Scotland team do themselves proud in their first Uber Cup appearance

A young Scotland team did themselves proud in their first-ever Uber Cup appearance, ending on a high with a strong showing against Spain.

Scotland’s women qualified for the 28th staging of the event – held at the Ceres Arena in Aarhus, Denmark – through their performance at the 2020 European Team Championships.

Drawn in a tough Group B, the seven-strong side were beaten 5-0 in their opener against Thailand but won games against India and Spain to reflect lessons learned on the big stage.

Balloch’s Rachel Sugden, 19, played singles in all three contests.

“Everything was really cool,” Rachel told Badminton Europe.

“It is great to look around the hall and see so many familiar faces like those I watch on YouTube and from the big events all the time. It is really inspiring.

“There is a bit of pressure, but it is also nice. I have not had much of a chance to play on a world stage like this, so I am grateful for that opportunity.”

She got a particular kick out of playing Thailand’s world No.13 Busanan Ongbamrungphan.

“I can go home and tell my friends ‘I played Busanan today.’ She is top 20 in the world,” said Rachel.

“My parents love badminton, and I have been on the phone with them saying ‘guess who I just saw in the training hall’. It is really cool.”

Two-time Olympian Kirsty Gilmour led the way and claimed the team’s first win with a dominant 21-13 21-9 win over India’s Malvika Bansod, wrapped up in 36 minutes.

“I do not think it was India’s strongest team, but as Scotland we are confident and I was very happy to kick off the match with a good win for the team,” said Kirsty.

“I think it has been a long time since I played good, concise singles. That was a really good match for me, I was really happy with my fitness. I think I played at a fast pace.”

India claimed the next three rubbers but Scotland came close to another victory in the final game, with Gilmour and Eleanor O’Donnell beaten 21-8 19-21 21-10 by Treesa Jolly and Gayatri Pullela.

Against Spain, European singles bronze medallist Gilmour got the better of Clara Azurmendi in the opening rubber 21-12 21-7, completed in 27 minutes.

Sugden put up a spirited showing against Beatriz Corrales, beaten 21-7 in the deciding game having won the opener 21-19, and sought to learn from her team-mate’s success.

“I am always looking at Kirsty playing, and that is where I want to get to,” Rachel reflected.

“I am very grateful when I get the chance to train with her, which I do not do very often, but that is what I am aiming for.

“I can learn from her work ethic and from how hard she trains and pushes herself. That has got her to where she is, and that is definitely something I can take from her.”

Lauren Middleton built on that momentum and came mightily close to beating Lucia Rodriguez, with her rival needing extra points in the first game and eventually prevailing 23-21 21-17.

Julie MacPherson and Ciara Torrance then took the contest to a decider by beating Azurmendi and Corrales 21-9 21-14.

The Spanish won a competitive final rubber with Rachel Andrew and O’Donnell going down 21-14 21-18 to Lucia Rodriguez and Ania Setien.

Scotland finished with an overall placing of 13th in the Uber Cup, capping an excellent week’s work for the team guided by National Head Coach Ingo Kindervater.


View all results here: https://www.tournamentsoftware.com/sport/tournament.aspx?id=DB4A4CB1-EC06-4754-9668-6A9DB8F63662

Photo Credit: Badminton Photo