Badminton: ‘Old head’ Gilmour too strong for MacPherson

It was not so long ago that Kirsty Gilmour was the young up-and-coming Scot. Now, at 22, she has the air of an experienced veteran and she began her quest for a first Scottish Open Grand Prix singles title with a clinical victory over Edinburgh’s Julie MacPherson.

Kirsty Gilmour won her first-round match against compatriot Julie McPherson and now faces Natalia Koch Rohde of Denmark. Picture: Lorraine Hill

The top seed at the Emirates Arena in Glasgow, Gilmour was a class above her teenage opponent who had exceeded expectations by battling through two rounds of qualifying to make it into the 32-woman main draw.

In the men’s singles, home interest came to an end in the second round when Ben Torrance lost to Belgium’s Yuhan Tan, but it was a good effort by the Prestwick youngster.

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Tan, the No 15 seed, won the first game 22-20 and the second was also close in the early stages before the more experience man took control and went on to take it 2-15.

Gilmour certainly didn’t underestimate MacPherson, but the 21-16, 21-7 scoreline was a fair reflection of the difference between a Scottish junior cap and a Commonwealth Games silver medallist who, barring injury, will be in Team GB at the Olympic Games in Rio next summer.

“I said on Monday that I thought I would be playing Julie in the first round,” said Gilmour. “We train a lot together but I tried to prepare as normal for a big match. It’s great for the Scottish youngsters to get more experience of playing in a big arena.

“It was a god match for me. I got to try out length and height on the shots and get used to the conditions. But I’ve got so much more experience. Julie is playing in events in small halls but I’ve been in ten or 12 Super Series events.

“This is such a good tournament and, hopefully, if I do well, then success breeds success. I really hope we get more depth in Scottish badminton and Julie has shown a lot of good signs.”

This is the first year that Gilmour has not been playing in the doubles, and the new single-mindedness will, hopefully, help her go one better than 2013 and see her stand on the top of the podium come Sunday afternoon.

“I did like playing in the doubles, but it is good to focus on just one event,” she admitted. “It means I don’t have to hang about for more matches.”

But she did stay around long enough to take in the match that decided who she faces today.

It was a close one with Denmark’s Natalia Koch Rohde eventually coming from a game down to beat Japanese qualifier Sayaka Hirota 18-21, 21-19, 21-15.

“Natalia is 5ft 10in so she’s a big girl,” said Gilmour. “But it should be a good match.”

For MacPherson, who celebrated her 18th birthday on Tuesday, it was another major stride in the right direction, and she admitted the match had been hard, but constructive.

“Kirsty is a huge role model,” said the Edinburgh College student. “At the moment, there is no one close to her in Scotland. She is so much stronger.

“I felt I played quite well, but she was getting everything back. Physically, it was very tough.”