SKYCITY Mystics wing defence Serena Guthrie has been rewarded for her outstanding debut season, being named as the ANZ Championship’s Best New Talent for the 2015 season.
The English international slotted easily into the star-studded Mystics midcourt in her first year in the competition and thrived on the opportunity to take on some of the world’s best wing attacks every week.
Renowned for her speed and athleticism, the 25-year-old’s form was a crucial element in the Mystics returning to finals action for the first time in three years and securing top spot in the New Zealand Conference.
“Serena has brought a different dimension to the ANZ Championship. The fans and the public have loved the way that she plays and she really deserves this accolade ahead of what will be an exciting finals series for her,” ANZ Championship General Manager Andy Crook said.
Guthrie, who has played 51 Tests for her country, arrived in Auckland after spending seven seasons playing with Team Bath in the UK Superleague. Her unique ability to read the play is highlighted in her overall season stats.
She finished ranked third in the competition for intercepts (26) and ranked in the top 10 for deflections (42) and gains (26).
“I’m pretty shocked to be honest and a bit lost for words,” Guthrie said.
“I definitely wouldn’t have been given this award without the Mystics, they’ve made me feel like part of the group and under them I’ve been able to flourish and play the game I want to play out there.”
“Being around these awesome athletes made me want to improve and get better and try and find the real consistency in my game,” she said.
Guthrie is the first midcourt player to win the Best New Talent award since it was introduced in 2010 and follows previous winners Mwai Kumwenda (2014), Jhaniele Fowler-Reid (2013), Julianna Naoupu (2012), Kayla Cullen (2011) and Sharni Layton (2010).
The 2015 ANZ Championship Finals Series gets underway on Friday night with the NSW Swifts hosting West Coast Fever in the Australian Conference Elimination Final at Sydney Olympic Park Sports Centre at 7.18pm (AEST).
The New Zealand Conference Elimination Final between the Kia Magic and Ascot Park Hotel Southern Steel will be played at 3.10pm (NZT) on Saturday, 6 June at Claudelands Arena in Hamilton.
The two Conference Elimination Final winners will progress onto the Conference Finals in Australia and New Zealand to face the Mission Queensland Firebirds and Mystics respectively.
Don’t miss a minute of action with the 2015 ANZ Championship Finals Series broadcast live on SKY Sport 1 in New Zealand and FOX SPORTS in Australia. ONE will show a replay of the Australian Conference Elimination Final from 8.30am on Saturday morning.
photos Janos Schmidt