By RJ Mitchell
JULIE MACPHERSON has likened the Yonex All England Championships to a home tournament such is the support she enjoyed from fans at the Arena Birmingham last year.
During her 2022 Mixed Doubles campaign with Adam Hall, the Edinburgh born ace claimed the scalps of the formidable Chinese pairing Ou and Zhang via a deciding set tie-break 23-21 which had a partisan Brummy crowd, boosted by a Caledonian cacophony, help the Scots surge over the finishing line after a dramatic contest.
In the next round, Olympic champions Yi Lyu Wang and Dong Ping Huang proved just too strong for our No.1 Mixed Doubles partnership yet these are memories enshrined in Julie’s recall.
Now as Julie and Adam prepare to go again with an opening encounter against the highly-rated Dutch pairing of Robin Tabeling and Selena Piek she said: “If we can get the support of the crowd behind us like we did last year then that could make a real difference.
“The All England is one of the tournaments I look forward to playing most in the year and it’s almost like playing a home tournament and this year my mum and dad are coming down which will make it even more special for me.
“Last year was my first All England as I was meant to play two years ago but that was during COVID and we got track and traced and that meant that we missed it and that was very upsetting.
“So in 2022 Ciara (Torrance) and I lost in the first round of the women’s doubles but Adam and I won our Mixed Doubles 23-21 in the third set against a strong Chinese pair and that was amazing.
“The atmosphere was just really good and everyone supported us as it was so close to home and it was definitely one of my best memories in badminton.
“In the second round we played the Olympic champions and they were just too strong but the Arena Birmingham is really amazing and it’s so big and I’m just really looking forward to playing there again.
“It is definitely top of all the BWF Tour events and just under the Worlds and Olympics and very prestigious and being the oldest tournament out there everyone wants to do well at the All England.”
Last week at the German Open Julie and Adam managed a fine win against the excellent Indian pairing of Sumeeth and Ponnappa before falling against this week’s No.4 seeded French duo of Giquel and Delrue.
When it came to assessing the World No.13 ranked Dutch opposition of Tabeling and Piek who await Julie admits that her partnership with Adam will need to be at the top of its form to get the ‘W’.
Julie said: “We have trained with Tabeling and Piek before but not actually played them as a pairing before but they are top-10 or thereabouts and had a really good run at the French Open and when they are on their game they are very dangerous.
“That said if we are playing well we will definitely have a chance. At this level anyone you get in the draw will be tough.”
Turning her attention to the Women’s Doubles Julie and Ciara Torrance have drawn the powerful Japanese pairing of Yuki Fukushima and Sataka Hirota and she is in no mood to underestimate the size of the challenge.
The Scotland international said: “It will be a very difficult match as they have done so much in badminton and made the finals of the worlds a few times but they have had injury issues and that is why they haven’t been seeded.
“So although they are not seeded they are vastly experienced and it is really good to be playing them at the All England and I’m sure it will be a great experience for us.”
Recalling last week’s German Open campaign Julie is hoping that some vital lessons can be learned that will stand her and Ciara in good stead in Birmingham: “In Germany our original opponents withdrew so we played an American pair who qualified and one of them was more a singles player and the other more of an experienced doubles player but they have a few good wins and although we didn’t play our best we did enough to win.
“Then we had the third seeded Malaysians Pearly Tan & Thinaah Muralitharan and we knew they were really strong as they had won the French Open and the Commy Games and we actually felt that we had put in a very strong performance before losing 21-18, 21-15.
“Last year we actually beat them in the opening round of the German Open but even although we didn’t repeat that this time we were pleased with the match, we got our tactics right even although we could not get the win.
“Also I think they did lift their level this time as there was no drop off from us but they are now top-10 in the world and they were very good over the first three shots and looking for the third shot when they served.
“Plus our returns were not as good as they should have been and they won quite a lot of quick points, especially in the middle of the first game.
“But all of that has definitely helped prepare us for the All England and I feel like our game is in good shape and if we can produce our best level and maintain it that will give us a real chance.”
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