Kirsty Gilmour and Kieran Merrilees are aiming to add to their catalogue of victories at this weekend’s Yonex Scottish National Championships at Bell’s Sports Centre in Perth.
Merrilees, who has not played competitively since hand surgery last month, is seeking a fifth men’s singles title and Gilmour is favourite to make it five in a row in the women’s event. She is also chasing a remarkable four on the trot in the women’s doubles.
If Merrilees does take the title he will be the first player to collect a handful of men’s singles since Bruce Flockhart, who went on to win eight in all.
Merrilees is seeded to meet 3/4 seed Alex Dunn (Motherwell) in Sunday’s semi-finals while South Queenferry’s second seed Matthew Carder, runner-up the last two years, is expected to face the other 3/4 seed Ben Torrance.
Gilmour, who is on course for this year’s Olympics, is top seed ahead of Edinburgh teenager Julie MacPherson, who reached the mixed doubles final last year.
Commonwealth Games silver medallist Gilmour starts the hottest of favourites after a run last month that included finishing runner-up at the Malaysian Masters and reaching the quarter-final of the Syed Modi International in India.
Gilmour has a new doubles partner in Rebekka Findlay (Erskine). The top seeds start against Mauchline’s Emma Cook and Kaity Hall.
Martin Campbell (Edinburgh) and Patrick MacHugh (Kinross) defend the men’s doubles title they won for the first time last year and begin against Jordan Philip (Carluke) and Darren Reid (Uddingston). Their main rivals are Glasgow’s two-time former champion and 2015 runner-up Robert Blair, who partners Mauchline’s Adam Hall. They begin against Stephen Brennan and Andrew Gilliland (both Glasgow) with Hall in good form after winning the Iceland International title at the weekend with England’s Chris Coles.
Dunn and Josh Neil (Prestwick) will hope to bar Campbell and MacHugh’s path to the final while the other 3/4 seeds Carder and Torrance are in the half with Blair and Hall.
Pride of place this weekend will go to Glasgow’s Imogen Bankier, playing her farewell tournament. She is looking for her tenth mixed doubles title in a row to add to her six women’s doubles victories and she and Blair are bidding for their third title together. They start the tournament’s action tonight with a clash against Alistair Gordon and Basia Grodynska (both Edinburgh).