Robert Blair is one win away from his first Yonex Scottish National Badminton title at the Bell's Sports Centre in Perth. He and Jillie Cooper, the top seeds, roared through to the final on the back of a first-round bye followed by three straight-game wins when the Championships got under way last night.
In the final they will face Glasgow's 2011 world silver medallist Imogen Bankier and Renfrew's Watson Briggs, who are chasing a sixth title together and a seventh for her. But their path to the final was slightly tougher than Blair and Cooper's with Bankier's 2011 title winning partner Paul Van Rietvelde (Longniddry) and Kirsty Gilmour (Bothwell) taking them all the way.
Edinburgh-born, Glasgow-based Blair and Edinburgh's Cooper began with a 21-7 21-12 victory over Edinburgh’s Alistair Gordon and Julie MacPherson, followed by a 21-15 21-12 win over Danny Leinster (Glasgow) and Emma Cook (Mauchline). In the semi-finals joint third seeds Glasgow’s Patrick MacHugh and Caitlin Pringle barred the way but Blair and Cooper swept through to the final 21-18 21-11.
Briggs and Bankier were equally untroubled in the early rounds, beating Jacob Reynolds(Stonehaven) and Fiona Bain (Uddingston) 21-8 21-10 then outplaying Keith Turnbull (Larkhall) and Megan Richardson (Haddington) 21-15 21-12. But they were stretched all the way in the semi-finals where Briggs' men's doubles partner Van Rietvelde and 19-year-old Gilmour took the first game 21-17 and were two points away from victory before Briggs and Bankier levelled 21-19 then took the decider 21-14 after a 50-minute duel, the longest match of the night.
The Championships get into full swing today (Saturday) with the singles and level doubles playing up to and including the quarter-finals. Briggs and Rietvelde are second seeds behind Martin Campbell (Edinburgh) and Angus Gilmour (Glasgow) while Kirsty Gilmour is top seed as she defends her women's singles title and is also top seed in the women's doubles with Cooper, who has won the title three times already.
In the men's singles former champions Craig Goddard (East Kilbride) and Calum Menzies (Falkirk) will be among the leading contenders for the title in the absence of injured holder Kieran Merrilees (Glasgow).
Admission is available on the door throughout the day and again on Sunday when the singles and level doubles semi-finals are played in the morning and the five finals in the afternoon.
The Yonex Scottish National Championships are being held at Bell’s Sports Centre for the 12th consecutive year, courtesy of Perth and Kinross Council, Perth Common Good Fund, Perth and Kinross Sports Council and Live Active Leisure.
To follow the results check out this link to tournamentsoftware http://www.tournamentsoftware.com/sport/tournament.aspx?id=B13DFDF9-2558-44F6-A902-C24C58EF8D4C