You would think obtaining your first European title on the junior badminton circuit would propel one’s mind into an overriding sense of euphoria. For 14-year-old Julie MacPherson, however, it’s a victory she simply takes in her youthful stride.
The third year Royal High pupil has not only exceeded expectations on the wider continent, she was also crowned Under-17 National Junior champion earlier this month adding to her Under-15 title she achieved in October last year.
Her success in the Belgian town of Edegem at the Victor Junior Olve tournament has underlined the Edinburgh teenager’s pedigree as one of the game’s most promising talents.
Julie said: “I wasn’t expected to win so it was good to do so. I had to play eight singles matches over three days. There were 56 who entered into the tournament. We were in pools of three before the top two qualified and went into the main draw. There was also a team event where Scotland finished eighth out of about 19 countries that competed but I’m really happy to have won my individual event.”
Victory in the Scottish Under-17 Junior Championships was Julie’s ninth national title since she began playing competitively only four years ago – a remarkable achievement considering her experience of competing at that level. Her ability to not only compete but come out on top in an age bracket above is a testimony to her resilience and consistency out on the court.
“I was quite confident going into the tournament for the Under-15s in October last year but I wasn’t even seeded for the under-17s so I didn’t think I’d have a chance. I’m seeded number one when I play in Under-15s tournaments so there is some pressure on me to win but when I enter the older age group, I can relax a bit more and just play my own game.”
Julie was also influential in Scotland’s victory at the Home Countries Quadrangular tournament over the weekend with the squad taking the title for the first time since 2005. She is now gearing up to represent her country once again this weekend at the Sainsbury’s 2012 School Games in London and hopes Scotland can prevail ahead of some familiar rivals.
She said: “Overall, most of the sports will have Under-17 squads with them but in badminton, England only takes an Under-15 side with them so we might have a good chance.”
A resounding feature of the MacPherson household is the numerous accolades both Julie, and her elder sister, Heather, 16, have won from their time competing within the racquet sport. However, Julie admits it wasn’t until she approached the end of her primary school days that she made the decision to put all her energy into becoming an established badminton player. “My mum introduced me to tennis when I was about three but it wasn’t until I was about ten that I decided to concentrate on badminton. I was still doing tennis tournaments up until the age of nine but I definitely feel I have chosen the right sport. I really get on with the people I meet and play with. I also really like the fast pace as well.”
With the badminton season fast approaching its climax, Julie is looking forward to a small break before she begins her preparations for the new season in August. With the youngster training at Edinburgh Academy twice per week, not to mention further double sessions with the Under-19 national squad, it would be fair to suggest her daily routines revolve around life on the court. However, having had the opportunity to represent her country for the first time only just last year, Julie added: “It’s a big thing representing your country and something I am really proud of. It can be difficult still being at school but I wouldn’t have it any other way.”