Two homegrown pairs are hoping to spring some surprises in front of the Glasgow crowd in the mixed doubles at the Scottish Open Badminton Championships.
Adam Hall and Julie MacPherson take on Canada’s Nyl Yakura and Kristen Tsai in the first round while Alex Dunn and Eleanor O’Donnell will face an as yet unknown qualifier.
But should they both progress, they could potentially face the second and third seeds in the second round at the Emirates Arena in what is a tough draw for the all-Scottish partnerships.
Selena Piek and Jacco Arends, the third seeds, will likely await Dunn and O’Donnell if they pass their first test and Dunn, a double European junior medallist, is relishing the challenging draw.
“You look forward to coming up against some of the big pairs,” said Dunn, who reached the last 16 in the men’s doubles at the Commonwealth Games. “It gives us confidence when we perform well.
“I’ve been sitting down with the coaches and trying to simplify things in my own performances rather than over complicating what I am doing.
“Eleanor also has the women’s doubles to focus on as well, but we are just going to relax into it and hopefully our game will flow.”
O’Donnell, 19, who also teams up with Ciara Torrance in the women’s doubles, admitted it will the first time the pair have joined forces since reaching the quarter-finals on the Gold Coast.
She said: “Myself and Alex haven’t actually played together since the Commonwealth Games, so even getting back out on court and playing together again will be good.
“We will just take every game as it comes and just try and do as well as we can. It would have been nice to have a few more tournaments under our belt, but there’s no pressure.
“You’re always going to be nervous when you’re facing one of the top seeds, but you just have to forget about it and we’ve seen them play quite a lot so we know what to expect.
“We’re still very young and we’re still learning so it’s a great opportunity to test ourselves against some of the best players – every match is a big learning curve for us.”
Meanwhile, Hall and MacPherson, who played together as juniors but only combined as seniors last year, have been on a good run in recent weeks in the run up to Glasgow.
And while Hall is confident about their chances of beating their Canadian first-round opponents, he knows the home support will be vital should they set up a clash against German second seeds Mark Lamsfuss and Isabel Herttrich in the second round.
“We’ve been given quite a tough draw; we’ve got a game we should win in the first round against the Canadians, but it’ll be quite tough,” Hall said.
“We’ve actually got the second seeds in the second round, who we lost to last week, but we lost in three really close sets, so I reckon in Scotland the home crowd will hopefully make the difference.
“Second round at the very least, and then anything after that’s a bonus for us.”
Hall, a European junior bronze medallist, has good memories of the tournament having reached the doubles final in 2016 with England’s Peter Mills.
He added: “The doubles final in 2016 is the highlight of my career by an absolute country mile. It’s always such a special occasion playing in front of the home crowd.
“It’ll be even more special this year because I’ve got a new partner in Julie, so we’re trying to re-establish ourselves.”
Tickets are on sale at badmintonscotland.org.uk
The Scottish Open Badminton Championships are being staged at the Emirates Arena by Badminton Scotland with support from Glasgow Life, Glasgow City Council and EventScotland, part of VisitScotland’s Events Directorate.