Merrilees and Gilmour aiming to continue Nationals dominance

Kieran Merrilees and Kirsty Gilmour will be aiming to win their seventh and eighth singles titles respectively when the Yonex Scottish National Championships get underway at Bell’s Sports Centre in Perth this weekend.

Merrilees, hoping to win his third consecutive title, opens his campaign against James Leggate on Saturday morning and is likely to have to overcome Joshua Apiliga in the semi-finals if the draw unfolds as expected.

In the bottom half second seed Christopher Grimley is likely to have to overcome 2016 champion Matthew Carder in the quarter-finals and joint 3/4 seed Ben Torrance in the semi-finals if he wants to contest his first senior Nationals final on Sunday.

In the women’s singles Gilmour is strong favourite to continue her recent stranglehold on this event and win the trophy for the eighth consecutive time.

She has a first round bye before facing the winner of Toni Woods and Laura Muir, with a potential semi-final against last year’s runner-up Julie MacPherson or Under 19 National Champion Lauren Middleton.

Rachel Sugden also enjoys a first round bye, with her biggest challenger for a place in Sunday’s showpiece final likely to be 2014 and 2015 runner-up Holly Newall.

Defending champions Alex Dunn and Adam Hall start against 2009 champion Thomas Bethell and his partner Callum Crangle in the men’s doubles with a potential semi-final against Irish International silver medallists Jack MacGregor and Ciar Pringle.

In the bottom half of the draw Sunday morning’s semi-final is expected to be contested by second seeds Christopher and Matthew Grimley and joint 3/4 seeds Steven Stewart and Ben Torrance.

In the women’s doubles top seeds Julie MacPherson and Holly Newall start against Shona MacKay and Erin Waddell while second seeds Eleanor O’Donnell and Ciara Torrance will have to negotiate a potentially tricky first round tie against Rachel Andrew and Rachel Cameron.

There is also a fascinating first round match to look forward to between scratch pairing Gilmour and Basia Grodynska against the more established duo of Middleton and Sarah Sidebottom, with the winners likely to face the top seeds in next round.

Hall and MacPherson face a difficult start in the mixed doubles in what will be Hall’s first competitive outing since returning from injury. They could play Matthew Grimley and Ciara Torrance, if Grimley and Torrance overcome their first round against Calum Flockhart and Jodie Harris.

After a first round bye Dunn and O’Donnell also face a difficult start and will play MacGregor and Sidebottom, assuming they win their first round.

Badminton Scotland CEO Keith Russell said: “There are some interesting matches right from the word go at the Yonex Scottish Nationals this year.

“Both seeded pairs face difficult early tests in the mixed doubles on Friday night and there are some intriguing matches to look forward to in the ladies’ doubles.

“The National Championships are always a time to celebrate the sport of badminton in Scotland and there will be some great matches throughout the whole weekend to help us do just that.”

The Yonex Scottish National Championships are being staged at Bell’s Sports Centre, Perth, from 1-3 February 2019 with support from Perth and Kinross Council, Live Active Leisure and the Perth Common Good Fund.

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