Junior Birch shines as London Grand Prix gets underway

02 October 2013 / 13:44
Badminton starlet Chloe Birch insists she is looking to soak up every bit of her time competing in one of the iconic 2012 Olympic venues after signalling her intentions on day one of the London Grand Prix.
Birch, who represented Team GB at the Australian Youth Olympic Festival and finished an agonising fourth in both the singles and doubles event, headed to the Copper Box Arena in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in high spirits after a promising outing at last week’s Czech International.
And the 18-year-old was again in fine form as she advanced from the qualification round thanks to a straight sets victory over Jana Ciznarova.
Birch will now face Sarah Milne in her first round match – her England team-mate having finished fourth at the 2010 Youth Olympic Games – and she is determined to keep the good times rolling.
“It’s really good to have won,” said Birch, who will also face Indonesia’s Anggia Shitta Awanda and Della Destiara Haris in the women’s doubles alongside Lauren Smith.
“I usually play in small venues so it’s really good to come to a big venue like this, especially when the Olympic Games were here.
“It’s a really good opportunity. I’ve got another English girl in the first round who is also from Yorkshire so it will be tough but I am just going to give her everything.
“I’m still actually a junior but I am playing on the senior circuit this year so it is really to get myself established and get through a couple of rounds so I can face the top players and just learn.
“I want to get some experience so next year, when I am a full senior, I can challenge the top players.”
England began the day with four players bidding for a place in the main draw but Georgina Bland fell to China’s Olympic semi-finalist and World Championship bronze medallist Wang Xin 21-6 21-13.
Victoria Williams also fell in qualifying, beaten 21-7 21-11 by Sayaka Sato of Japan while Lynnlette Aung, another AYOF competitor, went down 21-5 21-12 to Beiwen Zhang of the USA.
Scotland collected their first win of the London Grand Prix when Kieran Merrilees moved into the second round with a 21-16 21-16 win over England’s Ben Muir.
That earned the Glasgow man a second-round clash with Finnish seventh-seed Ville Lang, a former Scottish Open champion, and Merrilees said: “I would say it wasn’t my best, I think I was using this first round to learn how to play in the hall for my next match.
“I think I’ve got a good chance of maybe knocking out a seed if I play my best. I think hopefully I can win my next match and see what happens, but I know it’s going to be very tough because the guy I’m playing next (Ville Lang) is really good.”
© Sportsbeat 2013