Middleton makes it through to main draw as qualifying rounds kick-off 2021 Scottish Open

Top Class badminton finally returned to the Emirates Arena on Thursday as the 2021 Scottish Open got underway with qualifying.

And there was plenty of home interest for fans to get behind on day one in Glasgow.

Toni Woods made the perfect start in the opening round of qualifying against England’s Gauri Shidhaye on court number two.

She edged a tight first game 22-20 and looked to be running away with the second, building a 10-6 lead.

Lauren Middleton also brought some home success to Glasgow, coming out on top in a gruelling opener with Dane Ann-Sofie Husher Ruus, eventually winning 21-15, 17-21, 21-14.

The two Scottish victors faced one another in the second round of qualifying with Middleton prevailing 21-14, 21-18 to earn a place in the main draw.

“We are really good friends,” explained Middleton after her win. “It is bittersweet as ideally I like to see the other Scots do well throughout the draw.

“This match was played at a slightly slower tempo, maybe because we know each other so well.

“It’s never easy going up against a friend, but it was a good win for me and I’m delighted to get through the qualification round.”

Middleton couldn’t quite repeat her singles success in the women’s doubles draw as her and partner Holly Newall were beaten 21-9, 21-10, by Malaysian partners Anna Ching Yik Cheong and Teoh Mei Xing.

However, there was singles disappointment on Thursday morning for another home player, Rachel Sugden who retired hurt five points into her opening match with Sweden’s Julia Tuvesson.

Also in qualifying action was Basia Grodynska against higher-ranking English opponent Michelle Ting.

The youngster from Longriddry made a flying start, taking the first game 21-12, but Ting rallied to force a decider which she eventually took 21-12.

In the men’s singles qualifying, Callum Smith suffered a cruel loss in three games after taking the opener, 21-11, against Denmark’s Soren Hold.

Hold is ranked 501 places above Smith in the BWF rankings but was pushed all the way, only edging the decider 21-19.

James Robertson also bowed out at the opening stage, going down 21-11, 21-10 to Priyanshu Rajawat from India.

In the men’s doubles, there was an all-British tie with Thomas Bethell and Callum Crangle getting past fellow countryman Jordan Edgar and Englishman William Freer, 21-13, 21-10.

Their reward was a tie against former world number two duo Kim Sa Rang and Kim Gi-Jung from South Korean.

Bethell and Crangle put up a brave fight but went down 21-10, 21-9.

“We were surprised by their speed and agility,” said Thomas.

“On a slow court they still managed to move the shuttle really quickly.

“But it was great experience, particularly for Callum who won his first senior match earlier. It has still be a good day overall, we’ll take a lot from it.”

The Scottish Open Badminton Championships is being staged at the Emirates Arena by Badminton Scotland with support from Glasgow City Council, Glasgow Life, Event Scotland and Yonex. Full results are at www.tournamentsoftware.com, and tickets are on sale at https://badmintonscotland.org.uk/tickets/