Reigning women’s singles champion Kirsty Gilmour got her title defence off to the perfect start with a comfortable victory in the first round of the Scottish Open Badminton Championships.
The 25-year-old Scottish star, who is based in Glasgow, overcame England’s Georgina Bland at the Emirates Arena as she began her quest to retain the crown she won in style in 2017.
She triumphed 21-8 21-12 to set up a second round tie against Mette Poulsen and while Gilmour admitted that there is extra pressure on her this year, she is taking it all in her stride.
“It was a really good match for me just to hit the ground running and shake off some nerves,” she said. “Some things I’m going to look to tighten up for the next round, but it was a good start.
“It definitely felt different going out there as the reigning champion, it’s a new one for me on home turf, but it was so nice to have the crowd there supporting me.
“There is always just that expectation that I’ll win and obviously I’m trying my best to live up to those expectations, but I have my own goals that are more short sighted.”
She will be joined in the second round by Danish star and number two seed Line Højmark Kjaersfeldt, who overcame Germany’s Fabienne Deprez 21-10 21-19 to progress.
In the men’s doubles, Scottish teenagers Jack MacGregor and Ciar Pringle fought valiantly against top seeds Chris Langridge and Marcus Ellis before losing 21-6 21-12 to the English heavyweights.
The Commonwealth champions and Rio 2016 bronze medallists showed their class against their inexperienced opponents, but Langridge and Ellis are not getting ahead of themselves.
“It was a good way for us to start, we had an opportunity to see what the hall was like, get used to the conditions and really settle ourselves in,” said Ellis, who also played in the mixed doubles.
“We are coming here as top seeds so technically on paper we’re supposed to win it but we play against some of the other guys week in, week out and have tough matches against them.
“Nothing is a given though and we will definitely have to play our best to win, so that’s going to be a big focus for us. We know we can win when we play our best and that’s how we see it.”
While MacGregor and Pringle’s participation at the Scottish Open is over for another year, the pair took plenty of positives from their performance against such a high level opponent.
“We knew it was going to be tough and we had a lot of different tactics coming into it, but in the first set we were just trying to get used to the speed of play,” said MacGregor.
“I think we started getting a few more rallies as it went on and did really well overhead in attack. I thought we put in a really good performance and the second set was bang on what we wanted.”
Pringle added: “We definitely grew into it as the game wore on. The first few points we were a bit jittery, getting used to their style of fast play, but they are both top of the world in doubles.”
There was better fortune for fellow Scots Alex Dunn and Adam Hall, who defeated Russia’s Konstantin Abramov and Alexandr Zinchenko 21-11 21-17 in an accomplished showing.
“I’m really happy with that, not just getting the win, that’s possibly the best we’ve played since the Commonwealth Games and we just played the game exactly how we wanted to,” said Hall.
“If we keep playing like that I don’t see why we can’t go far into the tournament. It’s going to be a tough game in the next round but we can beat anyone if we keep playing like that.”
Christopher and Matthew Grimley came close to joining them in round two, but Sweden’s Richard Eidestedt and German Peter Kaesbauer ultimately proved too strong, winning 21-18 21-15.
Elsewhere, there was an upset as the number four seeds, Canada’s Jason Anthony Ho-Shue and Nyl Yakura, lost 21-17 21-17 to New Zealand’s Oliver Leydon-Davis and Abhinav Manota.
There was also plenty of Scottish interest in the women’s doubles as three pairings went into battle in the opening round, including qualifiers Lauren Middleton and Sarah Sidebottom.
The duo, who won both of their qualifying matches to reach the main draw, came up trumps again as they dispatched Ireland’s Kate Frost and Moya Ryan 21-17 21-14.
Eleanor O’Donnell and Ciara Torrance will also feature again after defeating the English pairing of Evie Burbidge and Zoe King 21-9 21-19, but Julie MacPherson and Holly Newall lost out to Sweden’s Emma Karlsson and Johanna Magnusson.
Meanwhile, Bulgaria’s Gabriela and Stefani Stoeva, the reigning European champions, sailed into the next round with a 21-8 21-12 win against German pair Lisa Kaminski and Hannah Pohl.
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The Scottish Open Badminton Championships is being staged at the Emirates Arena by Badminton Scotland with support from Glasgow Life, Glasgow City Council and EventScotland, part of VisitScotland’s Events Directorate.
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