Circuit

Strong entry on Emirates Arena debut
Date: 11/6/2012 9:06 PM
Published by : Manuel Røsler

SCOTLAND’S players will face a stern challenge when the Scottish International Championships take place at Glasgow’s new Emirates Arena for the first time from November 21-25.

With the entries now closed, a total of 297 players from 32 nations and all five continents plan to tackle the third oldest open championship in world badminton. For many it will be a first chance to play in the Arena which will stage the badminton at the 2014 Commonwealth Games.

England are sending a massive squad of 85, double Scotland’s entry, while Denmark have entered 22 players and Germany 21. Japan, India, Malaysia, Chinese Taipei, Australia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Mauritius, Ghana and Nigeria are among the other nations entered.

Yonex Scottish National champions Kirsty Gilmour, who has already won three titles in Europe this season, and Kieran Merrilees, who won in Poland, will spearhead the singles challenge while Edinburgh pair Robert Blair and Jillie Cooper are the big home hopes in the mixed doubles with Gilmour and Cooper also tackling the women’s doubles.

The international entry is the best for several years with the eight highest ranked men’s singles players all having won titles this year.

The one to watch, however, is new Bitburger Open winner Chou Tien Chen, one of the first players from Chinese Taipei to compete in Scotland. He is set to push Malaysia’s Bulgarian, Tahiti and Peru International title winner Tan Chung Seang all the way.

Spain’s Italian International champion Pablo Abian and Dutchman Eric Pang, who won his home tournament, are two of the other big names to watch.

In the women’s singles Gilmour can expect to be seeded but the line-up includes Bulgarian Petya Nedelcheva (pictured), who beat the Bothwell 19-year-old in a close three-game contest on Friday on the way to the semi-finals in the Bitburger.

Spain’s Carolina Marina, Bulgaria’s Linda Zetchiri and Czech No. 1 Kristina Gavnholt are the other leading contenders along with Japan’s Sayaka Takahashi. The line-up also includes former Scottish International champion Elizabeth Cann of England and last year’s singles runner-up and mixed doubles winner Line Kjaersfeldt of Denmark.

Bitburger runners-up Chris Langridge and Peter Mills are among the leading men’s doubles entries. Mills was runner-up in Glasgow last year with Marcus Ellis, who now partners Paul Van Rietvelde.

But the top contenders are Germany’s Michael Fuchs and Oliver Roth and Bitburger semi-finalists Mads Conrad and Rasmus Bonde. Japan’s two pairs, Keigo Sonoda and Takeshi Kamura and Hiroyuki Saeki and Ryotoa Taohata, are also in the mix.

The Malaysian sisters Hui Lin Ng and Hui Ern Ng, who were runners-up last year, top the women’s doubles entry but Cooper and Gilmour are the fifth highest ranked pair on the list so can expect to be seeded while England’s Heather Olver and Kate Robertshaw and Gabby White and Lauren Smith are also ones to watch. But expect a strong challenge from the two Japanese and one Korean pair in the high-ranking part of the entry.

Bitburger winners Anders Kristiansen and Julie Houmann of Denmark are the leading contenders in the mixed doubles followed by Takeshi Kamura and Yonemoto Koharu of Japan. Ellis and White and Langridge and Olver provide England’s challenge.

Blair and Cooper may just miss out on a seeding but will be among the danger pairs but Kjaersfeldt, who won last year with Kim Astrup Sorensen, has to qualify with Mikkel Elbjorn.

The Championships, one of the major events on the Badminton Europe circuit, may be moving to a new venue but the old traditions endure. There will once again by a Play Badminton Carnival taking place alongside the Championships in the Velodrome with 3,000 schoolchildren getting the chance to try their hand at badminton for the first time or simply to improve their game under the guidance of Scotland’s top junior coaches.

There will also be a coaches workshop as part of BADMINTONscotland’s coach education programme as well as an emphasis on officiating with new recruits getting a chance to try their hand at line judging.

Anne Smillie, Chief Executive of BADMINTONscotland, said: “I am sure all the players coming to Glasgow will be thrilled by the new arena and its facilities and I am heartened to see that the entry list is a strong one. Badminton fans are guaranteed some top-quality entertainment during the five days of the Championships.

“We are grateful to Glasgow Life, Glasgow City Council and all our partners for helping us to stage these Championships in what is a new era for Scottish badminton after 20 marvellous years of staging the Championships at the Kelvin Hall International Sports Arena.

“We hope the new Arena will be an inspiration to all the Scotland players hoping to win places in the squad for the Commonwealth Games.”

Tickets and further information available at www.badmintonscotland.org.uk

Article by Peter Dean, Photo by BadmintonPhoto.

©badmintoneurope.com. All rights reserved.

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