No.1 Gilmour first into last four in home tournament

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Kirsty Gilmour, the top seed and defending champion, was the first player to reach the singles semi-finals at the Yonex Scottish National Championships when she overwhelmed Frances Heslop 21-10, 21-8 at Bell’s Sports Centre in Perth yesterday.

Having received a bye through to the second round, the Bothwell teenager needed just 25 minutes to book her place against Emma Cook in the last four. Cook beat Kirsty McGlynn 21-11, 22-20.

In the bottom half, four times winner Rita Yuan Gao, now based in Switzerland, is the No.2 seed and she proved to be too strong for Edinburgh 15-year-old Julie MacPherson, winning 21-5, 21-11.

In the other quarter-final, Rebekka Findlay ended the hopes of Julie’s older sister, Heather, 21-13, 21-8.

The men’s singles was blown wide open by the withdrawal through injury of Kieran Merrilees, who had been hoping to complete three wins in a row. The new favourite is 2010 champion Calum Menzies and he justified the billing with a straight games 21-13, 21-12 win over the up-and-coming Josh Neil.

Menzies now faces a tough tie against another former winner in East Kilbride’s Craig Goddard. His opponent, Adam Hall, retired through injury at 4-11 down.

In the top half of the draw, there are two names new to this stage of the Championships with Ben Torrance set to face Danny Leinster. Torrance defeated Stewart Ferns 21-9, 21-13, while Leinster dropped the first game 21-23 but opponent Ruaridh Sim was injured early in the second game and had to pull out.

The mixed doubles is an intriguing final as it pitches Olympian Imogen Bankier and Watson Briggs against Robert Blair and Jillie Cooper. Bankier, who won the 2011 world championship silver medal alongside England’s Chris Adcock, and Briggs have won the title five times. But they needed three games to knock out Gilmour and Paul Van Rietvelde in Friday’s semi-finals.

Edinburgh-born Blair, who played for England for a decade and won a world championships silver men’s doubles medal, is one of the most experienced players and is seeded No.1 with Cooper. Adding to the intrigue is the fact that Blair and Bankier are former partners. They won the 2007 Scottish International Championship and went on to make it into the world’s top ten.