Kirsty Gilmour completed a magnificent seven of women’s singles titles after enjoying yet another triumphant weekend at the Yonex Scottish National Championships.
Not since 2012 has there been a winner other than the Scottish No.1 and she showed exactly why with a 21-12 21-16 victory over Julie MacPherson.
Earlier defeating Rachel Cameron in straight games, the Bell’s Sports Centre, Perth, was once again treated to the impressive badminton that has seen Gilmour become a big threat on the world stage.
But if you thought she was done there with her bid for Nationals titles, the 24-year-old insists that couldn’t be further from the truth.
“It feels really good to have a seventh National title, it’s not something I ever set out to do but it’s become a bit of a habit to come to Perth and see how the young players are shaping up,” she said.
“Physically I feel quite good, I had a long period in Asia over Christmas and New Year so it was a good six weeks, I think that’s what I needed in terms of playing consistent matches against all the top girls.
“I’m always prepared for a really good battle with Julie, you think you’ve got her and the shuttle just keeps coming back from a tricky position.
“I always really enjoy Perth, it’s very serious but everyone is friends or family or very into the badminton and it’s a really nice feeling to be playing.
“To have a seventh title is never something I set out to do, but it’s a very nice feeling to have those under my belt – let’s try and go for number eight!”
Meanwhile the men’s singles went the way of the formbook as top seed Kieran Merrilees maintained his domination in the Scottish National Championships.
The 28-year-old has now won six titles, only missing out in 2016 due to injury, with that year’s winner Matthew Carder on the opposite side of the net this time around.
It was a game befitting the top-two tussle too, Merrilees the man to eventually hold his own to secure a 21-12 21-11 victory – a win he is not underselling the significance of.
“The Nationals is always important to everyone and to win it again means a lot,” he said.
“I've won six times now and I've still got a good few years left in me so hopefully I can push on and win some more titles.
“I've changed the way I play slightly so some of my performances have been a bit up and down at times earlier in the season, but I'm in some good form just now and I'm happy with the way I've been playing.”
The men’s doubles was also a battle between the top seeds as Alex Dunn and Adam Hall were pushed all the way in a three-game thriller against Martin Campbell and Patrick MacHugh.
It was Dunn and Hall who struck first, taking the opener 21-15 to show why they became Turkey International and Iceland International champions over the winter.
But Campbell and MacHugh battled back 21-19 to force a deciding game, with Dunn and Hall the pair to hold their nerve and prevail 21-17 in a match lasting 43 minutes.
“It wasn’t the game I wanted to play, it was a bit patchy and from 18-14 I think we should have won the second game,” said Dunn
“Maybe my inexperience and nerves played a part but luckily we closed the third and I’m extremely happy to win my first title.”
While Hall added: “It’s nice to get my title back, I won it a couple of years ago with Bob [Robert Blair] and I think I play against Martin and Patrick in every final so it was nice to get one back over them.
“We had a good first game, but fair play to the boys they forced us into winning it, we’re just relieved to get over the line.”
But the weekend’s most dramatic game was saved until last as Dunn and Eleanor O’Donnell saved multiple match points in order to win a thrilling contest against Campbell and MacPherson in the mixed doubles.
As the third/fourth seeds, both pairs had already caused shocks in this tournament, on a similar level as they shared the opening games 21-17 14-21.
And from there the remarkable contest continued as the game continued to to and fro, extending beyond the normal winning line of 21 points.
But after 51 minutes of intense badminton it was Dunn and O’Donnell left celebrating the final point, delighted to secure a 25-23 final game and their first win as a pair.
That wasn’t O’Donnell’s only win as she successfully defended the women’s doubles title she first won with MacPherson last year.
The two opened up quickly against Holly Newall and Ciara Torrance – taking the first game 21-11 against the pair that had toppled second seeds Rebekka Findlay and Caitlin Pringle earlier in the competition.
They were pushed all the way in the second however, having to fight right to the last to take the win 25-23 in the second game.
Immediately before the finals got underway, the Derrick Roarty Award was presented.
The Derrick Roarty Award is given to a coach, official or volunteer who has made an outstanding contribution to badminton over a long period, and is aimed at those unsung heroes who may not have a high profile but work tirelessly for the sport.
Having dedicated over 50 years of his life to the sport, and having been mentored in his younger days by Derrick Roarty himself, Alastair Wilson was an extremely fitting and well deserving recipient this year.
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