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Netball - 27. April 2011.

Kayla Cullen receives second consecutive ANZ Championship Best Young Player nomination

As the LG Mystics stand poised to play in their first ever ANZ
Championship Finals Series, their young gun defender Kayla Cullen has
been announced as the fourth nominee for the league's 2011 Best Young
Player Award.



This is the second consecutive year in which Cullen has been nominated
for the Best Young Player Award.  Designed to recognise emerging stars
of the world's best netball league, the award guidelines allow for
players to be nominated in successive years, as long as they have taken
the court at no more than five games in total across any preview ANZ
Championship season.



19-year-old Cullen just meets the criteria, having taken the court on
five occasions in 2010.



This year is a very different story, with Cullen taking the court at all
12 of the Mystics' games so far this season.



Clearly enjoying her regular starting spot which has seen her as a key
contributor to the Mystics' eight wins to date, Cullen was delighted
when told of her nomination.


"I've found it a lot easier settling in this year, it's really helped
having that bit more experience from last season and knowing the girls
better.  I'm not as nervous as I used to be going on court, I feel right
at home now", she said.


"I'm just loving the opportunity to get so much court time, and getting
out there and showing what us young players are made of!"



One player who has had a huge impact on Cullen this year is Silver Fern
Anna Scarlett, who made her ANZ Championship debut this season after a
break from netball.



"She makes my job so much easier...she makes me look good!"



Cullen suffered from cramping during the Mystics' Round 11 match against
the Mercury Energy Tactix.  Not wanting to risk injury before her team's
crucial Round 12 match this weekend, she sat on the sidelines for the
second half of that game.



The Mystics head south for their final match of the season, playing the
Ascot Park Hotel Southern Steel in Invercargill on Sunday night.  If
they win that match, they will secure their first ever Finals Series
appearance.



Unphased by the looming pressure of Sunday's match, Cullen said "I'm
feeling confident because we're a stronger team, we have stronger
shooters, and we can match up evenly throughout the court, position for
position".



Born in Auckland, Cullen has been playing netball since she was nine
years old.  She was a member of the 2010 World Netball Series Champions,
the FastNet Ferns, and is currently a member of New Zealand's 21/U
squad.



Cullen has a busy life off the court, working part-time as a nanny and
studying Sport & Recreation.  However, her ultimate goal is far removed
from sport - she would love to eventually work as a florist!



Cullen's fellow Best Young Player nominees are currently Ashleigh
Brazill (NSW Swifts), Chelsea Pitman (Queensland Firebirds) and Sulu
Tone-Fitzpatrick (First Windows Waikato/Bay of Plenty Magic), with the
fifth and final nominee to be announced during Round 12.  The winner
will be announced during ANZ Championship Grand Final week in May.
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