Women’s doubles profile: Gabriela and Stefani STOEVA (BUL)
Bulgarian’s dynamic duo Gabriela and Stefani Stoeva in Womens doubles
Ages: 26 (Stefani), 28 (Gabriela)
Partners since: 2008
Career-high ranking: 8 (November 8, 2018)
Current ranking: 10
With the retirement of the Danish duo of Christinna Pedersen and Kamilla Rytter Juhl, the Bulgarian sister act is Europe’ top bet in the Women’s Doubles as it strives to break the Asian domination in the event, having been the defending three-time continental queens.
Their bond has been unbreakable even before their first game together in 2008, and their family ties have enabled them to dream high for their badminton goals.
Born in separate towns just southeast of the capital Sofia, the sisters have been a regular fixture in both the junior and senior circuit, where they juggled in both of those. In 2011, they have won their first career title as a tandem in the Turkiye Open, outlasting the English pair of Alexandra Langley and Lauren Smith in a three-game marathon.
Two years later, they swept Denmark’s Julie Finne-Ipsen and Rikke Søby Hansen for their lone European Junior Title, before going to the senior badminton circuit full-time in 2013.
Apart from their Turkiye Open win, they have won 34 more tour titles, the majority of which came in the International Challenge/Series events. Also, they have been comfortable winning at home, as attested to their four Bulgarian Opens and a 2020 Bulgarian International title to their names.
Their record year came in 2015, as Gabriela and Stefani took home nine tour titles and their lone European Games gold in Baku. Two years later, they made it to their first European Championship final where they fell to the legendary Danish tandem in Kolding.
However, 2018 was a step up, having won five titles in the circuit (four of them in the World Tour) and finally won their first continental title, sweeping all five of their matches in Huelva in the process. Eventually, they’s successfully defended it in 2021 and 2022.
The success in Europe and on tour have yet to translate into badminton’s majors, with the farthest they’ve got was the quarterfinals of the World Championships in Huelva last year.
Still, with time being their friend, they can still catch up and break the Asian Domination of the Women’s Doubles.