Gritty Kirsty Gilmour pulls through a tough start

Scotland's Kirsty Gilmour in action against Rong Schafer of the USA in Glasgow. Picture: Lorraine Hill

Scotland's Kirsty Gilmour in action against Rong Schafer of the USA in Glasgow. Picture: Lorraine Hill

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A NASTY cold and a stuffy opponent made it an unexpectedly rigorous opening day for Scotland’s No 1 women’s singles seed Kirsty Gilmour at the Scottish Open Grand Prix at the Emirates Arena in Glasgow.

However, the 21-year-old Commonwealth Games silver medallist shrugged off the negatives and was resolutely upbeat after her 21-15, 21-17 victory over American Rong Schafer. “It was really tough,” she said. “But it was quite nice to get into the competition on the first day. It was a very positive start.”

For the three Scots who made it into the last 32 in the men’s singles, there were fleeting moments of optimism, but the trio all ended up losing a third game decider and thereby joined Scottish Champion Kieran Merrilees, who suffered a shock exit on the opening day, on the list of casualties.

Josh Neil, the talented left hander, lost 21-18, 8-21, 8-21 to Ukraine’s Dmytro Zavadsky. His Prestwick club-mate Ben Torrance went out 19-21, 21-12, 15-21 to Denmark’s Joachim Persson.

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That left Matthew Carder to try to join Gilmour in the last 16. He had been expected to meet top seed Eric Pang, but the Dutchman had been forced to pull out through injury in the first round.

The beneficiary of that withdrawal – England’s Rhys Walker – again rode his luck. He dropped the first game 14-21 to the South Queensferry student but took the next two 21-9, 21-18.

But, for Gilmour, the march towards more glory at the Emirates Arena continues.

On her last visit, she stood on the podium to collect her Commonwealth medal and she reflected yesterday: “It’s lovely to be back, there are always going to be really good memories.”

The beaten finalist at the Scottish Open last year, Gilmour briefly trailed 10-11 in the second game then showed the determination that justifies her star billing. “I really do want to go one better this time,” she added.

With perfect timing, Gilmour is scheduled to complete her film-making and script-writing degree at the West of Scotland University in May – the same month that marks the start of Olympic qualifying for Brazil in 2016. The World No 25 said: “I’m not going to be playing the same volume of tournaments over the next few months so my world ranking might slip a little.

“But I’m going to work on some personal improvements to my game.

“Next year will all be about trying to get to Rio.”

While she says she has had little extra in the way of sponsorship since her Glasgow 2014 success – “there have been a few bits and pieces and a lot more invitations to things” – she is looking forward to a nice wee earner next week. Along with fellow Scots Robert Blair and Imogen Bankier – they defend the mixed doubles this week – the Bothwell youngster is heading for Indonesia on Monday to play for an All Star European line-up in the Axiata Cup.

“We are guaranteed a minimum of £3,000 each in prize money,” said the player whose prize cheques are normally in two or three figures.

“And the winning team of six get to share £250,000.”

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