Badminton Life

Young Scots Battle in England

It has been a busy time for Scottish badminton players of late and the last weekend in February saw another two players heading to England to play in the annual Wimbledon Open Challenger Tournament.

Kieran Merrilees and Alison Marr were Scotland's representatives who took on the might of some of England's top youngsters and by all accounts the duo gave a good account. Kieran Merrilees managed to battle through to the quarter-finals of the tournament and although his cause was aided with a bye in the first round, the rest of the matches saw him competing hard and turning in performances that bode well for the future.

In the second round, Merrilees came up against Martin Ventham and quickly resolved the first set with a 21-12 victory. The second set may have been a closer affair but the Scot held his nerve and a 22-20 triumph moved him through to the third round. Perhaps he had a liking for that score because the first set against Jack Molyneux in the third round also ended in a 22-20 victory for Merrilees but the next set was a more convincing and straightforward win. This victory placed him into the quarter finals where he eventually lost out but not without making a fight of it.

Losing the first set 21-14 to the second seed Mark Sellwood, things looked tough for Kieran but he bounced back to clinch the second set 21-19, setting up a third and final set but unfortunately for the young Scot, the number two seed showed exactly why he has been giving that ranking as he held out for a 21-17 win and ended Merrilees progress but there was no shame in losing to such a highly rated opponent and hopes remain high for Kieran in the sport.

If a quarter final placing was great for Merrilees, a semi-final placing for Alison Marr was a great boost to her confidence and was much deserved given her play. In the first round, Marr had a tough match with Elanor Cox as the game went to three sets before Marr eventually triumphed with a score line of 21-14, 20-22, 21-16. The Ladies tournament was a shorter affair than the Mens as this victory placed Marr into the quarter finals where again she battled through a three set match with the score eventually being 22-20, 19-21, 21-15 in Marr's favor.

No doubt that two three set matches in a row would have an impact on Marr's fitness and it was unfortunate that her opponent in the semi-finals had received a bye in her quarter final tie due to number one seed Rebecca Pantaney withdrawing from the tournament. This freshness assisted Kelly Mead and despite her best efforts, Alison Marr slumped to a 21-10, 21-12 defeat to Mead, who eventually lost the final to Jo Dix by 21-16, 21-12.

Marr completed a spirited weekend by making it to the final of the Ladies Doubles event, where she and her partner Helen Ward from England, surged through their quarter final and semi final matches but fell at the final hurdle when Tracey Baker and Catherine Grant triumphed by a comfortable 21-13, 21-12 win.

The young Scottish badminton players are continuing to make the far reaches of tournaments and if they can continue this form, there is a genuine Scottish hope for medals and trophies this year.

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