Badminton Life

Austrian Tournament Awaits Confident Scots

After the moderate success they had in Holland for the Uber and Thomas Cups, its not hard to imagine that the Scottish badminton players would have been keen to get back onto the court and attempt to keep their good run form going and some of the key players had the chance to do just that by participating in the Austrian International Championships.

Scotlands biggest success story was undoubtedly in the Uber Cup where the women won all of their Group matches and shocked France in the knock-out stages before eventually finishing fourth overall. Although it was a truly tremendous team performance, two of the star acts were clearly Linda Sloan and Susan Hughes and both of these players were returning to action very quickly in Vorchdorf, Austria.

Hughes has a good pedigree in international badminton with Commonwealth success behind her and it was no great surprise to learn that she had been made the number one female seed for the tournament. The nature of the draw means that Hughes is able to see who her potential opponents will be and if she is to progress to the semi-finals, it is likely she will come against opponents like Miroslava Vaskova from Czechoslovakia, Rachel Howard from England and Ragna Ingolfsdottir from Iceland. None of these opponents represent a particularly easy tie and Hughes will have to live up to her number one billing if she is to defeat them all and hopefully grab the glory in the competition.

The other Scottish female player faces a far more considerable task but if any player is capable of overturning the odds and stealing an unexpected win, it is surely Glasgow teenager Linda Sloan, who stunned fans and players alike by having a tremendous run of games at the Uber Cup. Sloan has been drawn against the second seed in the tournament, Finlands Anu Nieminen and there is every chance that Sloan may exit the tournament at an early stage but she is unlikely to go down without a fight. Sloan is also involved in the Doubles event and she, and her partner Jillie Cooper will be looking to have a decent run in this event and their first match will be between the winner of the match between Sweden and Germany.

Cooper is also taking part in the Mixed Doubles event and she must be looking for a better tournament than she personally endured during the Uber Cup. The tournament was great for the team as a whole but Cooper never got going in Holland but playing with partner Watson Briggs gives her the ideal opportunity to get some wins and the pair have received a bye in the first round. Waiting for them in the next round may well be fellow Scot Thomas Bethell and his English partner Caroline Westley who have an opening match against the host nation pairing of David Obernosterer and Elizabeth Baldauf.

An interesting twist is that although Bethell and Briggs may be opponents in the Mixed Doubles, they will be team-mates in the Mens Doubles where they kick off against another Austrian pairing of Thomas Hahn and Daniel Samhaber, where victory will see them square off against Claes and Mawet from Beligium.

With badminton in Scotland currently on a high due to the success at the Uber Cup, it would be excellent to see the feel-good factor of the game continue with some victories for the Scottish team.

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