“The fastest racquet sport in the world with the shuttle reaching speeds of 200mph+.”

It’s hard to imagine what a shuttle travelling at that speed would look like at close quarters, never mind how someone could get it back over the net.  But as luck may have it the Yonex Scottish National Championships, starting this Friday 31st January at Bell’s Sports Centre in Perth, offers the perfect opportunity to find out.

With #Glasgow2014 getting ever closer the best players in Scotland could be forgiven for having their minds on the Commonwealth Games and the thought of representing their country in front of up to 7,000 partisan fans at the Emirates Arena. However with qualification for this summer’s badminton team still in the balance and based on ranking points and results up until the end of April 2014, those thoughts will need to be put to one side with all eyes on the Bell’s Sports Centre this weekend as Scotland’s finest look to impress ahead of Team Scotland selection.

Scottish badminton is well and truly on the up with the recent news it begun Commonwealth Games year having climbed to No. 18 in the Badminton World Federation (BWF) world team rankings, from a comparable position of No. 32 this time last year. This puts Scotland 5th among the nations who will contest the team event at Glasgow 2014 and when you consider the form of its leading players including Kirsty Gilmour, Imogen Bankier and Robert Blair the prospect of host nation badminton glory on Sunday 3rd August – the last day and finale of #Glasgow2014 – becomes very real indeed.

But what was I saying about thinking too far ahead? First things first, here are some of the match-ups to look out for at the National Championships starting this Friday, together with the timings and ticket information for each day. The last chance to see Scotland’s star players in home action before the Commonwealth Games – say no more!

In the women’s singles Kirsty Gilmour, fresh from her recent victory in the Swedish Masters is hot favourite to claim the National Championships title for a third year in a row.  Erskine’s Rebekka Findlay is seeded No.2 to be Gilmour’s final opponent.

The men’s singles is shaping up to be the most competitive event with two-time winner and top seed Glasgow’s Kieran Merrilees (pictured in main shot) looking like he’ll need to overcome not one but two past winners if he is to lift the national title. In the semi-finals the winner of Gordon Thomson, also from Glasgow, and Craig Goddard from East Kilbride (who themselves have won the tournament two and three times respectively) will be Merrilees likely opponent, with defending champion Calum Menzies from Falkirk seeded to be lying in wait should Merrilees make it to the final. We did say it was competitive!

In the mixed doubles Imogen Bankier and Robert Blair, the former world championship silver medallists, look to make it a memorable eight titles in a row for Bankier with the pairing of Paul Van Rietvelde and Jillie Cooper the opponents most likely to be standing their way in the final.

The men’s doubles promises to be fascinating as young Scots Martin Campbell and Patrick MacHugh, winners of last weekend’s Iceland International, look destined for a crack at top seeds Robert Blair and Paul Van Rietvelde in the secound round, whereas in the women’s doubles Imogen Bankier and Kirsty Gilmour look a truly formidable pairing.

Yonex Scottish National Championships

Venue: Bell’s Sports Centre, Hay Street, Perth PH1 5HS

Day 1: Friday 31st January, 5pm to 8.30pm. Adults £3, Concessions £2 – U18s & 65 and over
Day 2: Saturday 1st February, 10am to 6.30pm. Adults £5, Concessions £3 – U18s & 65 and over
Day 3: Sunday 2nd February, Semi-finals start at 10am. Finals start at 1.45pm. Adults £7, Concessions £5 – U18s & 65 and over

A season ticket for all 3 days is available: Adults £10/Concessions £7.  

Tickets are available on the day subject to availability, and in advance via enquiries@badmintonscotland.org.uk or 0141 445 1218.

It promises to be a championships to remember.  Whether it’s your first time at a badminton event or you are a regular, enjoy the action!

And last but not least if you haven’t done so already now is the perfect time to subscribe for free to the Sport on Spec e-newsletter. Our free weekly update delivered straight to your inbox has the latest ticket news for all your live sport: a fail-safe way to ensure you don’t miss a moment of sporting action in the lead up to the Commonwealth Games and beyond!

Yours in Sport,

Tim Underhill
Founder – SportonSpec

*The picture used in this post is by kind permission of BADMINTONscotland.  To find out more about playing badminton and events they run visit their website*