KIRSTY GILMOUR will be bidding for a title treble at the Yonex Scottish National Badminton Championships at the Bell’s Sports Centre in Perth this weekend.
The 19-year-old from Bothwell is top seed and defending champion in the women’s singles, and No. 1 seed in the women’s doubles with Edinburgh’s three-times champion Jillie Cooper. Gilmour is also joint third seed in the mixed with Longniddry’s Paul van Rietvelde.
In today’s draw Gilmour starts her women’s singles bid with a bye then faces Frances Heslop (Glasgow) in the second round. But the big threat to her chances will probably come in the final where she is expected to face second seed and four-times champion Rita Yuan Gao, who is the last player to do the treble in 2004 when she repeated her 2002 hat-trick.
Swiss-based Yuan Gao will also be a threat to Gilmour in the women's doubles where she and Glasgow’s Caitlin Pringle are seeded to meet Cooper and Gilmour in the final.
But for starters Gilmour and Cooper, who is chasing her fourth women’s doubles title in five years, will have to get past Kirsty Flockhart (Kelty) and two-times former singles champion Fiona Sneddon (Fife) in the second round while five-times winner Yuan Gao and Pringle take on the MacPherson sisters, Heather and Julie (Edinburgh).
But the toughest task for Gilmour will surely come in the mixed doubles where Cooper and Robert Blair are top seeds and are bidding to dethrone second seeds and five-time winners Watson Briggs and Imogen Bankier, the 2011 world silver medallist and 2012 European bronze medallist (with England’s Chris Adcock).
Bankier is actually bidding for a seventh mixed title, having won two years ago with Paul Van Rietvelde. Surprisingly Blair is bidding for a first senior National crown despite title success in all three events as a junior.
Glasgow’s Blair and Edinburgh’s Cooper start against Edinburgh’s Alistair Gordon and Julie MacPherson while Renfrew’s Briggs and Glasgow’s Bankier take on Jacob Reynolds (Stonehaven) and Fiona Bain (Uddingston).
Van Rietvelde and Gilmour, who are drawn in the same half as Briggs and Bankier, meet Motherwell’s Alan Steel and Heather McDonald first up.
Van Rietvelde and Briggs go from rivals to partners as they defend their men’s doubles title. After a first-round bye they take on Stewart Ferns (Edinburgh) and James Milton (Mauchline) while top seeds Martin Campbell ( Edinburgh) and Troon’s Angus Gilmour meet Matthew Carder (South Queensferry) and Andrew Gilliland (Bearsden).
If all goes to seeding the semi-finals should see Campbell and Gilmour meet Blair and two-time former singles champion Gordon Thomson (Glasgow) while three-times champion Briggs and partner Van Rietvelde will be expecting to meet the other third seeds and two-time champions Keith Turnbull (Larkhall) and Jamie Neill (Hamilton).
The big disappointment for fans of the men’s singles is the enforced withdrawal of Glasgow’s two-time champion Kieran Merrilees through injury. That leaves Falkirk’s former champion and second seed Calum Menzies as title favourite and he takes on Alan Steel in the first round in a bottom half of the draw which also features Josh Neil (Prestwick), third seed Mathew Carder and three-times champion East Kilbride’s Craig Goddard.
Tickets are still available on the door at the Bell’s Sports Centre and the action starts on Friday at 5 pm with the mixed doubles. The early rounds of the other events take place throughout Saturday (from 9.30 am) with the semi-finals on Sunday morning (from 10 am) and the finals in the afternoon (from 1.45 pm).
The Yonex Scottish National Championships are being staged at the Bell’s Sports Centre for the 12th year in a row thanks to the support of Perth & Kinross Council, Perth Common Good Fund, Perth & Kinross Sports Council and Live Active Leisure.
To view all the draws click here