Julie Determined to Double Up on European Medal Glory

By RJ Mitchell

JULIE MACPHERSON has set her sights on a double European Championship medal haul.

The Scotland international won the pivotal group two singles tie against Germany which guaranteed the Scottish Women a bronze medal at the European Team Championships in Poland last month.

Now with the European Individual championships scheduled to be held in Saarbrücken, Germany, in a month, Julie and partner Ciara Torrance are determined to make another strong bid for glory.

Busy Run The Perfect Preparation:

With a testing month of tournament action ahead in France, Switzerland and Spain, the pairing are hopeful they will head to Germany in top form.

Reflecting on all of this Julie said: “To medal at the European (Individuals) is a big thing for us, it is a major tournament and we want to win some sort of medal and that is definitely a big goal for us.

“To do that after winning a medal at the teams would be tremendous but the competition is going to be tough.

“You have the Stoeva sisters from Bulgaria, who may be favourites and they also beat the strong French pair Margot Lambert and Anne Tran last week in Germany to make the final where they lost a tight three-setter to a top Chinese pair and are performing really well.

“So it is a very open field and it will be tough to make the semi but we know if we can perform at our best consistently we will give ourselves every chance.

“Over the next month that is what we are looking to do in terms of peaking for the Europeans by getting a good run of tournaments under our belts and find our best form.”

Criss-Crossing The Continent:

Julie and Ciara were third reserves for this week’s Yonex French Open in Paris but with pairings running out of time to qualify for this summer’s Olympic Games and ‘The Race To Paris’ qualification period closing on April 28, the Scottish Women’s doubles champions sit in 41st position.

Taking all of that into account Julie admitted a slot in next week’s Orleans Masters looks more likely: “We are down to the last few tournaments before the Olympic qualification process finishes and I think everyone will want to play (in the French Open).

“It is also a 750 World Tour event so it is a big one and I don’t see much chance of us making the draw for it.

“But we have the Orleans Masters next week and then probably the Swiss Open and then the Spanish Masters, so we have a run of tournaments coming up which is great.

“We didn’t play any tournaments in January, so it has been a while since we played week on week, probably back to November, so it will be great to get several tournaments back under our belt and get back into the swing of things.”

Ciara Torrance and Julie MacPherson

Mixed Bag In Germany:

It was a case of frustration being to the fore for Julie and Ciara at last week’s Yonex German Open, with a superb first round victory against US No.8 seeds Xu and Xu (21-13. 14-21, 21-12) followed up by a disappointing defeat at the hands of the Danish/Dutch combo Anthonisen and Tirtosentono (10-21, 11-21).

Considering a case of what might have been Julie said: “We were really pleased with that win against the American pairing as we played them in Finland back in October and we lost that one pretty easily, I think it was 21-13, 21-11, so we had been really disappointed with that performance.

“But this time around we played very well, mixed up our attack, defended very well and stopped them getting through us easily and just played a much better match and gave them very few cheap points. So it was a pretty satisfying win.

“Then against Anthonisen and Tirtosentono we just really didn’t play well at all and we were pretty disappointed coming off. They started well and got momentum and confidence from the beginning and with us being off it they just took control.

“Really at this level it is how you play on the day and where we played really well on Tuesday in the first round it was the opposite in the second round and it was frustrating not to back it up on the Thursday.”

Hard Won Bronze At The European Teams:

Looking back at the Women’s European Team Championship campaign in Poland Julie reckons the Scots were particularly good value for their bronze medal.

The European Women’s Team Championship bronze medallist said: “So we played three doubles matches in the group stages and overall we were pretty happy with how we performed.

“We did lose against the Dutch pair (L: Jille and Tirtosentono 14-21, 21-18, 14-21) and although we lost we played at a pretty high level until around 14-14 in the third and then they got away from us.

“Then we had a good win against the Spanish pair Clara Azurmendi and Beatriz Corrales the next day (W:21-13, 21-14) then against Germany (L: Efler & Lohau: 14-21, 10-21) we weren’t too pleased with how we played but thankfully we had won the tie by then.

“After Lauren (Middleton) got injured we knew that we were more likely to get the win over Germany at third singles than against Spain and also as I don’t play singles I didn’t want to play two days in a row against Spain and then Germany.

“So I opted to save myself for the Germany game and it paid off. I didn’t know how it would go as I hadn’t played a singles match since the last Uber Cup four years ago but it went pretty well (won: v Schaller: 21-12, 21-11) and I was really pleased with how I played.

“Singles is very different; the movement is different and after the match you are sore in places which you wouldn’t be after a doubles as you are using slightly different muscles.

“With it being so long since I last played it was a challenge but I just tried to be consistent and Antonia did make a few mistakes. Also the shuttles were fast and I stayed patient and chose my moments when to attack.

“So I just looked to make her earn every point and it worked well.”

“In terms of the semi against Spain the order favoured the Spanish as their three singles were very strong and that was the most favourable order for them but there were a few people playing in a couple of games, so it was what it was.

“But given everything we had to go through it was a hard won bronze and won we are proud of.”