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Stefani Stoeva and her older sister, Gabriela Stoeva are two of the most exciting young players across the globe in the women’s doubles discipline.

Stefani used to compete in singles at the top-level too. She won the European under-17 women’s singles championships and was given the best young player of the year award, by Badminton Europe in 2013.

Though a year older, Gabriela was actually brought into badminton by her younger sister. Back in 2004, one month after Stefani had started playing badminton, Gabriela left her love of ballroom dancing to take up hitting shuttlecocks.

They both went professional less than two years later at their first National Championships in 2006. They were both in the national team in 2008 and then played their first international matches at the Turkey International, in Antalya, in 2009; a rapid escalation from badminton novices to international performers.

At the 2014 Scottish Open Grand Prix, they beat England’s Heather Olver and Lauren Smith in the final to clinch their first BWF Grand Prix title.

In 2015, they then won the Grand Prix tournaments at the Russian and Dutch Open, and won gold in the 2015 European Games in Baku, Azerbaijan.

2017 silver, and then 2018 gold showed their dominance of women’s doubles at consecutive European Championships, first in Kolding, then in Huelva.

Together they reached their highest world ranking of eighth in November 2018 and currently sit 17th in the world tour rankings, 14th in the world rankings and are seeded sixth for Yonex All England 2021; the highest European women’s doubles pair.

Here they will play French pair Vimala Heriau and Margot Lambert in the first round. The 34th ranked pair in the world have only played the Stoeva sisters once before-the Bulgarians winning in two sets at the YONEX Belgian International 2019.

Third seeds at the Swiss Open and they phenomenally did not drop a set all tournament until the final, in fact, 21-18 once to the Danish fifth seeds Maiken Fruergaard and Sara Thygesen being the closest any pair came.

Even the Thai first seeds Jongkolphan Kititharakul and Rawinda Prajongjai were blown away 16-21 14-21, the third win in a row for the Belarussians over this pair that were both seeded and ranked higher than them going into this week.

The Stoeva sisters’ final saw a surprise opponent in the shape of Pearly Tan and Thinaah Muraitharan of Malaysia. They had never played before, and the 30th ranked pair surprised the Belarussian favourites in the first set.

They went up 7-1 then rode the Stoeva mid-set comeback before clinching the first with a very tight line call that’s challenge result went their way, by a whisker. The second set was more comfortable, the Malaysians winning 21-19 21-12.

The Stoeva sisters too will head straight to Paris after their time in Birmingham is done. They will face Siti Fadia Silva Ramadhanti and Ribka Sugiarto of Indonesia in the BWF Tour Super 100 Orleans Masters.

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