ON Wednesday November 23 the Scottish Open Grand Prix, one of the badminton calendar’s main events, gets underway at Glasgow’s Emirates Arena.
The tournament, which has been a Grand Prix event for three years, will bring some of the world’s best badminton players to the west coast of Scotland.
Kieran Merrilees, pictured on the side of a Merchant City building up top, is Scotland’s highest ranked male competing in the event, and being the 13th seed he is straight into the final round draw.
Kirsty Gilmour, Scotland’s highest ranked female and silver medalist at the Commonwealth Games, will miss the tournament having undergone surgery after the Olympic Games.
Gilmour, though, will be working at the event, and told us: “I’m really looking forward to being involved with the event from a different perspective this year.
“It’s interesting to see what goes on behind the scenes and has given me more appreciation of the lengths the organisers go to.”
Gilmour, who picked up an injury pre-Olympics, spoke of her fellow Scot’s chances in the upcoming tournament: “Kieran Merrilees in the men’s singles could cause some upsets if he finds his form.
“In the women’s singles, young Holly Newall will have a tough time but I’m hoping she can use every moment on court as experience going ahead.
“In the ladies doubles Pringle and Findlay have been given a boost as the top seeds have withdrawn. This gives them a clearer path to the quarter finals if they can get through their tricky first round.
“Scotland have a few pairs to keep an eye on in the men’s doubles. MacHugh and Campbell, previous national champions are the most experienced of the group but the Grimley twins are well worth a watch. They show amazing potential for the future.”
Clare Connor, a very well travelled BWF line judge from Lanarkshire, backs up Kirsty’s opinion on Christopher and Matthew Grimley: “They are amazing. They are so, so good on court. Especially when they play doubles because they are very in tune with each other.
“They cover the court all over and I just love watching them.”
As for the mixed doubles, Kirsty has tipped British pair of Adam Hall and Eleanor O’Donnell to cause some problems: “The mixed doubles will be a challenge for our solitary pair of Hall and O’Donnell. They are up against a more experienced pair but I wouldn’t put it past them to give the Canadian/Aussie pair a run for their money.”
With the World Championships being held in Glasgow next year, Kirsty spoke up the importance of this tournament as a whole.
“The Scottish Open boasts a strong entry from all over the world. Perhaps people will be using this as a test event ahead of the BWF World Championships being held in the Emirates Arena in 2017. On all fronts, there won’t be a dull moment!”
Clare Connor said the tournament is “absolutely massive” for Scotland and that the country would not have the World Championships without the Grand Prix.
With tickets from £3 per day, the Open is very accessible – it’s not often that plenty of the world’s top sportsmen and women are on Glasgow’s doorstep – get yourself out and enjoy the world’s fastest sport!