Badminton: Kieran Merrilees suffers early exit

Four home players lined up in the main draw of the men’s singles at the Scottish Open Grand Prix yesterday and, surprisingly, national champion Kieran Merrilees was the only one who failed to make it into the last 32 at the Emirates Arena in Glasgow.
Kieran Merrilees lost to Englands No 2 Toby Penty. Picture: Lorraine HillKieran Merrilees lost to Englands No 2 Toby Penty. Picture: Lorraine Hill
Kieran Merrilees lost to Englands No 2 Toby Penty. Picture: Lorraine Hill

While youngsters Josh Neil, Ben Torrance and Matthew Carder claimed straight game victories, Merrilees suffered a disappointing loss to England’s No 2, Toby Penty.

Penty is on the comeback road from injury and he showed some fighting qualities to oust his GB training partner and the Scottish No 1 17-21, 21-15, 21-10.

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Torrance undoubtedly pulled off the best result. He looked unlikely to make it into the second round when he stood 2-10 down to Taiwan’s Chun Hsien Yu in the first game. But the Prestwick youngster claimed the next dozen points and went on to win 21-15, 21-13.

Neil, who has been earmarked by the European Badminton Federation as one to watch, underlined his promise with a 21-6, 21-4 win over English qualifier George Isherwood.

Carder, a serial winner of National age-group titles, also faced an English qualifier in Thomas Joseph Stanford and he also had little trouble in advancing 21-11, 21-9. Carder now has a great chance of making it into the last eight. He was due to face the No 1 seed Eric Pang, but the Dutchman was forced to withdraw through injury. He took the first game 21-10 against England’s Rhys Walker but hurt his leg in the second and retired at 7-13 down.

So Walker now takes on Carder, while the two other Scots have stiffer tasks. Neil faces Ukraine’s 11th seed Dmytro Zavadsky and Torrance meets the Danish No 8 seed, Joachim Perssson.

In the women’s singles, Glasgow School of Sport’s Holly Newall joined Kirsty Gilmour in today’s first round proper following a couple of impressive qualifying victories.

Newall, who won triple gold at this year’s UK School Games in Manchester, defeated England’s Jessica Hopton 21-18, 21-19 in the first round and then secured her debut in the main draw with a 21-14, 18-21, 21-16 victory over France’s Anne Tran.

The Mauchline teenager’s reward is a first-round tie against Swiss player Sabrine Jaquet, the world No 49. Newall is No 287 in the World Junior rankings and a shock victory would put her into the quarter-finals.

Gilmour is the top seed in the women’s singles and is aiming to go one better than last year’s runner-up spot to Carolina Marin, the Spaniard who went on to win this year’s World Championship.

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The Commonwealth Games silver medallist has a lunchtime meeting today with American Rong Schafer. Her first real test should be against Germany’s Karine Schnaase, the No 4 seed, in Saturday’s semi-finals.

Robert Blair and Imogen Bankier are No 1 seeds and defending champions in the mixed doubles and Scotland’s Commonwealth Games bronze medallists face English qualifiers Matthew Clare and Devon Minnis today. Newall is also in the mixed doubles with Motherwell’s Alex Dunn and they face a tough first-round match against Danes Mathias Christiansen and Lena Grebak.