By RJ Mitchell
JULIE MACPHERSON is determined to make it third time lucky when she lines up with Adam Hall to face Commonwealth Games silver medallists Lauren Smith and Marcus Ellis at the Orleans Masters this week.
The Scots lost out in the semi-finals at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games in straight sets last year against the vastly experienced English duo.
Earlier this year in February, there was to be no revenge for Julie and Adam when they lost two-tight sets 21-16, 21-16 at the European Mixed Team Championships in the Group A encounter between Scotland and England.
But as Julie looks forward to an intriguing contest with the No.8 seeded English duo, she admitted that conditions may favour the Scottish champions hopes of victory.
Julie shared: “It is just like any pair you have lost to before – you are desperate to get the win. And with us losing to Lauren and Marcus twice before at the European Mixed Team Champs and last year at the Commonwealth Games then that is certainly the case this week
“They are a very strong pair and we have trained with them a few times and they are a very experienced partnership who use that experience well.
“In the Commy Games semis we didn’t play our best and lost pretty convincingly while in February at the EMTC we did play better but maybe didn’t win the crucial points and it was still a straight sets loss at the end of the day.
“This time a lot will depend on the hall we will be playing at in Orleans. Last year it was quite fast there whereas at the Commys and the EMTC the halls were both quite slow and hopefully our attack might work better in France.
“So I think it will depend a lot on how the hall plays and how the shuttle flies but regardless of that it will still be a very difficult match up for us.
“But in these tournaments there is just no such thing as an easy match and we just have to concentrate on playing our game to the best of our abilities and see where that takes us.”
Focussing on the key factors that may decide the outcome of their encounter with the highly-rated English pairing, Julie said: “Lauren Smith is very aggressive and very strong and works quite well at the back so I will need to be more above tape than she is and try and get on the net a bit more.
“Maybe the first three shots are more important in Mens Doubles but if it’s a fast hall it is important who gets on the attack first in this respect and is dominant and that certainly applies to Mixed Doubles as well.”
With Ciara Torrance missing out this week in the Ladies Doubles due to ongoing issues with a back injury, Julie’s focus has been solely on the Mixed and she revealed: “It is the back issue that Ciara had to withdraw from the All England with and she just isn’t 100% so I think it’s best for her to concentrate on making a full recovery.
“Obviously we were seeded to get to the quarter-finals in the Women’s Doubles this week and that is disappointing but in terms of the long-run it’s the best thing for Ciara and her rehab and she is making steady progress.”
Last time out Julie and Adam lost a finely-balanced first round at the Yonex Swiss Open against Ye Hong Wei and Lee Chia Hsin of Chinese Taipei who impressively went on to make the semi-finals in the St. Jakobshalle.
It is the type of match which Julie has no doubt will stand her and Adam in good stead this week and she said: “We lost 18 and 18 against Wei and Hsin and it was a tight match where again they won the big points and made the semis.
“So that just shows there is not that much in it and these type of games and what you learn from them are vital to continue making improvements.
“But with Ciara injured I have focussed on the Mixed and it’s been good to get back on the training court after the Swiss and just look to iron things out.”
The Orleans Masters will mark the end of this run of European tournaments and interestingly as Julie revealed the Palais des Sports has not been a lucky venue – for her partners: “I just played Women’s Doubles last year as Adam was injured then and so it was just the women’s and this year with Ciara out it is the other way around!”
Projecting beyond Easter, Julie admits that the next challenge is already looming on the horizon and she said: “We have a few tournaments in Asia in May with around four tournaments so after Orleans it is a week off on holiday then back into training and onto Asia.
“Then with that ahead and Olympic qualification as well it’s going to be very busy for us, I think it’s the Malaysia Masters first and then finishing up at the Indonesian Open.
“Last year we only started going to Asia in June but this year there are a lot of tournaments in Asia and plenty in Europe so it is full on.”
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