Badminton Life

Scottish Women stun France

The victories won by the Scottish badmintons women team in the Group stages at the Uber Cup in Holland would have earned them high praise alone but the team managed to outstrip their previous glories by delivering a major upset in the quarter final stages by defeating France in a thrilling encounter by 3 games to 2.

Just as in the Group stages, the combination of young and old proved to be the deciding factor in Scotland's triumph with Linda Sloan and Rita Yuan Gao once again being the heroines of the Scottish female badminton team.

Sloan, a teenager from Glasgow making a name for herself in the international game, overcame the world No.81 Weny Rhmawait by a score of 21-13, 21-16. This result was all the more impressive when you consider that Sloan is only currently ranked as being the 139th best player in the world, although she is likely to rocket up the rankings on the back of her solid performances in the Uber Cup.

Even if a surge up the rankings fails to materialize, it can only be hoped that Sloan is able to build on her promise and blossom into a formidable badminton player for many years to come.

One player who has undoubtedly earned the right to be considered a formidable badminton player is Rita Yuan Gao, the Scottish veteran who came out of international retirement to play in this tournament and whose victories in the Singles and Doubles events was the turning point in clinching victory from the jaws of defeat for the Scottish national team.

Yuan Gao defeated Elisa Chantuer 21-12, 21-12 in their singles match-up and the Scots held a 2-1 lead going into the Doubles event, with Susan Hughes losing to the worlds No.6 Pi Hongvan by a score of 17-21, 21-8, 21-9. Considering Hughes had previously defeated the world's No. 15 in Scotlands last match, taking the first game off an even higher ranked opponent was further proof of Hughes's talent but she was unable to follow up with another game victory to seal the win.

This defeat was the opening match of the tie but the Scots battled back bravely to hold the overall lead into the Doubles event, although the tie was quickly squared once again.

Hughes was again the unfortunate player as herself and partner Jillie Cooper lost 21-12, 21-19 to Pi Hongyan and Laura Choinet which meant that whichever team won the final match would triumph and pass through to the semi final stage.

Rita Yuan Gao and Imogen Bankier proved to have what it takes to win games when the pressure was on and after picking up the first three points that were available, the duo never looked back and sailed to an 21-18, 21-15 triumph, allowing the Scottish badminton team to start the celebrations and the planning for a semi-final tie with the host nation, the Netherlands.

Given this is the furthest the Scottish national team has ever gotten in the tournament, this placing will be a reason to say the players have made history but when you get so close in a tournament, there is always the desire to go one stage further.

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