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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Doubles rivals get Scottish International off to a tasty start

TWO-TIMES Yonex Scottish National men's doubles champions Jamie Neill and Keith Turnbull will be keen to make their mark at the Scottish International Championships, starting at the Kelvin Hall International Sports Arena a week tomorrow (Wed, Nov 23). And they were today given a great incentive to make an immediate impact when the draw paired them against rising Scotland star Paul Van Rietvelde and England's Ben Stawski, the recent Turkish International winners, in the opening round on the Thursday.
Scotland's other doubles hopes Martin Campbell and Angus Gilmour, who narrowly missed out on a seeding in the doubles, face a tough opening test against Austria's fourth seeds Juergen Koch and Peter Zauner. Russia's top seeds Vladimir Ivanov and Ivan Sozonov start against Taipei's Lin Yu Hsien and Germany's Kai Waldenberger.
Peter Mills and Marcus Ellis, England's defending champions, are only seeded sixth and must face New Zealand's Kevin Dennerly-Mintum and Oliver Leydon-Davis in the first round. Their first real test should come against Koch and Zauner.
In the men's singles Rajiv Ouseph is out to recapture the title he won in 2008. The four-times English National champion and Commonwealth silver medallist, starts his bid against Germany's Richard Domke. But his first real test should come against old rival Scott Evans, the 12th seed from Ireland.
Ukraine second seed Dmytro Zavadsky starts against Denmark's Flemming Quach and could face Russia's 13th seed Ivan Sozonov in the last 16, whilst Scottish National Champion Kieran Merrilees faces a tough opening match against ninth seed Petr Koukal of the Czech Republic. England are also out to recapture the women's singles with 2008 winner and 2010 runner-up Elizabeth Cann seeded fourth and opening with a bye before meeting England's Holly Smith or Estonia's Saar Getter. But the title favourite is Bulgaria's Linda Zechiri. The top seed begins her bid in the second round against England's Jo Dix or Scotland's Carol Nicoll.
Zechiri is seeded to meet Larissa Griga in the final but the Ukraine player's first test is a second-round clash with Austria's Simone Prutsch or Ireland's Sinead Chambers.
Russia's third seed Anastasia Prokopenko and Dutch fifth seed Judith Meulendijks are two players also capable of making their mark on the women's singles, whilst Scotland’s Commonwealth Youth Games bronze medallist Kirsty Gilmour opens up against Japan’s Kusuhose Yuka.
In the women's doubles Mariana Agathangelou and Heather Olver will be out to improve on last year's runners-up spot. Agathangelou won the 2008 title with Scotland's Jillie Cooper and her main threat next week with Olver will be Sweden's second seeds Emelie Lennartsson and Emma Wengberg, who were runners-up in 2008. Both pairs start with first-round byes. One outside pair to watch for is the Anglo-Malaysian partnership of Sara Milne and Anita Rauj Kaur, who start against England's Hayley Rogers and Helena Lewczynska.
In the mixed doubles Poland's Wojciech Szkudlarczyk and Agnieszka Wojtkowska are the pair to beat and they open up against Scotland’s Jakob van den Berg and Fiona Bain, while Scotland fans will be eager to see Watson Briggs back in action after his absence from the game. He partners Cooper in a first-round clash with France's Sylvain Grosjean and Emilie Lefel.
Switzerland's Anthony Dumartheray and Sabrina Jaquet are the second seeds and open their title bid against Sam Dobson and Emily Westwood in an event won last year by Scotland's Imogen Bankier and England's Chris Adcock when the Anglo-Scottish pair lifted their first title together.
Anne Smillie, Chief Executive of BADMINTONscotland, said today: "The draw has been quite tough on Scotland players but that's only to be expected in this Olympic qualifying period and with so many players from all over the world chasing vital ranking points in the race to qualify.
"Certainly the opening-round contest involving Paul, Jamie and Keith will give fans something to shout about once the main draw gets under way."
Qualifying rounds in men's singles and doubles and mixed doubles start the third oldest tournament in world badminton next Wednesday (from 12 noon) with first-round action getting under way at 10am next Thursday. There is a full day's play on the Thursday and Friday with morning quarter-finals and afternoon semi-finals on the Saturday. The five finals on the Sunday commence at 1pm.

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