Apiliga seals his first win as Scotland set up Spanish Showdown

Scotland completed a 5-0 demolition job against Latvia today in the qualifiers for the European Mixed Team Championships.

And that result sets up a winner-takes-all showdown with Spain tomorrow, who defeated Portugal in today’s other Group 6 match.

The two countries are tied at the top of the group on points but Spain are in the driving seat, having won 14 of their 15 matches against Latvia, Portugal and Ukraine while Scotland have won 13 and lost two.

It means that Scotland need to beat Spain tomorrow if they are to finish top of the group and qualify for the European Mixed Team Finals in Finland next year.

Coach Ingo Kindervater rested Adam Hall and Julie MacPherson for today’s mixed doubles but Chris Grimley and Ciara Torrance proved to be more than adequate alternatives, getting Scotland off to the best possible start with a 21-9 21-7 win over Reinis Sefers and Liana Lencevica.

Then Joshua Apiliga scored his first senior victory in a Scotland shirt, comprehensively beating Andis Berzins 21-7 21-6 to double Scotland’s lead.

Kirsty Gilmour secured the win, making the overall scoreline 3-0 with a women’s singles win over Jekaterina Romanova but the Scots weren’t finished there.

Hall returned to partner Grimley in men’s doubles once again, with the pair making it three wins out of three when they beat Berzins and Sefers before MacPherson and Holly Newall completed the rout, winning 21-7 21-7 in their women’s doubles clash.

Spain are the seeded team in Group 6 but the result is far from being a foregone conclusion and Scotland can go into tomorrow’s decider with high hopes.

Gilmour starts as clear favourite in the women’s singles and all three doubles matches offer realistic possibilities for Scottish wins.

And although Spain are favourites in men’s singles, whichever of Scotland’s two debutants are picked (Apiliga or Ciar Pringle), they can draw confidence from their performances so far in this competition as well as from the fantastic team spirit shown by the Scots pushing their teammates on from the side lines.

The match starts at 10am tomorrow (Saturday) morning and you can watch live streaming of the event here: https://www.badmintoneurope.tv/en-int/page/home-badminton-europe

Full results, draws and match schedules are at www.tournamentsoftware.com