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Netball News from around the globe by Rona Hunnisett
The Netball Jamaica Elite League will get under way on 21 March, and this week, the player draft for the prestigious competition was held at the JNA House in Kingston. 72 of the country’s leading players were randomly allocated into the six squads which will take part in the league, umpires were appointed and new uniforms were revealed for each side in the competition (L-R: St Ann Orchids, Clarendon Gators, Manchester Spurs, St James Sharpes, Kingston Hummingbirds, St Catherine Racers). For the full details of the team lists, coaching and support staff, please visit http://tinyurl.com/o926lp5
As part of the celebrations of “Women’s Month” in the Cayman Islands, the Cayman Netball Association is holding a series of clinics and open playing sessions across the country to encourage increased participation. During March, government officials from the Department of Sports are encouraging more women and girls to play sports as part of a focus on inspiring change, and matches in the country’s national league will be publicised to encourage spectators to come along.
In Zimbabwe, the Defence Forces Queens netball team was presented with the winners’ trophy for the 2013 Zimbabwe Netball League at the opening of the 2014 competition. The Queens side, which won the 20-team league last year, was runner-up in the 2014 pre-season tournament, but will be looking to step up performances in order to defend its league championship title successfully.
As preparations for the 2014 Commonwealth Games continue, host nation Scotland is set to face Trinidad & Tobago in a three match test series which will be played at Glasgow’s Emirates Arena from 1-3 April. The series will be an opportunity for Scottish coach Gail Parata continue the selection process for her squad ahead of the Games, and for her players to gain more “big match” experience in a large venue.
For Australian Diamond Paige Hadley, her chances of representing her country at the Commonwealth Games have been dashed. 21 year old Hadley, who made her international debut in last October’s series against the Malawi Queens, ruptured her anterior cruciate ligament while training with her ANZ Championship side, the NSW Swifts. Hadley, Australia’s current U21 player of the year, will midd the remainder of the 2014 trans-Tasman season, and the Commonwealth Games, after suffering the injury at Swifts training last Thursday night.
In the UK, Superleague leaders Surrey Storm edged to a narrow 52-50 victory over Hertfordshire Mavericks in the UK's biggest ever domestic netball match. In front of a 3,151-strong crowd at London's Copper Box arena (an attendance more than double the previous record, achieved at last season’s Netball Superleague grand final), Storm led 30-22 at half-time. Mavericks mounted a stern challenge in the final quarter, closing the ten goal gap at the start of the period thanks to accurate shooting from Kadeen Corbin to only one as the clock counted down. But the league leaders settled and edged away again, to remain undefeated into the second half of the season.
In the ANZ Championship, the Adelaide Thunderbirds continued their dominance over the Queensland Firebirds with a 55-48 victory in the 2013 Grand Final rematch. The victory means that the T-Birds have equalled the league’s all time record of 15 consecutive victories, which was set by Queensland in its championship-winning year of 2011. The Firebirds led 27-24 at half time, but the visitors piled on the pressure in the second quarter to extend their winning streak against the Queensland side to six matches. In other matches played in the second round, the Melbourne Vixens impressed during a clinical 65-56 victory over the West Coast Fever, while the Central Pulse (inspired by superb shooting performances by veterans Irene van Dyk and Donna Wilkins) overcame Southern Steel 67-56, despite 42 goals from 45 attempts by Jamaican international Jhaniele Fowler-Reid.
The NSW Swifts were given a stern challenge by the Canterbury Tactix, for whom Malawi international shooter, Mwayi Kumwenda netted 46 goals from 49 attempts. The Tactix levelled the highly competitive game 43-all midway through the third quarter, but a succession of errors allowed the visitors to take an advantage, which they maintained to take a 68-57 win. In the final game of the second round, the Waikato Bay of Plenty was too strong for the Northern Mystics, winning 50-36.