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Netball - 13. April 2011.

Sulu Tone-Fitzpatrick nominated for ANZ Championship's 2011 Best Young Player award

18-year-old First Windows Waikato/Bay of Plenty Magic defender Sulu Tone-Fitzpatrick is the second nominee for the ANZ Championship's 2011 Best Young Player Award.

After making her ANZ Championship debut with the LG Mystics in 2010, Auckland-born Tone-Fitzpatrick transitioned to the powerhouse Waikato/Bay of Plenty side in 2011. She has already proven to be a key contributor with her new team, making the starting line-up on five occasions already this season, including noteworthy performances against athletes of the calibre of Sharelle McMahon (Vixens) and Caitlin Bassett (Fever).

The tall teenager accredits her Best Young Player nomination to her teammates and coaching staff, who continue to inspire and support her. For an emerging defender, Tone-Fitzpatrick couldn't have a better mentor than Silver Ferns captain Casey Williams.

"I am really enjoying being with Magic and I just want to make the most of any chance I have to play...and to learn from the best in the world.'

"Having the likes of Casey Williams and Peta Scholz in front of you makes the job a whole lot easier and I have really enjoyed my time out there,'' Tone-Fitzpatrick said.

"I count myself very lucky that I've been given the opportunity to even be in the same team as her [Casey Williams] let alone being able to play with her.''

In Round 8, she faced possibly her toughest assignment to date, lining up against the competition's leading shooter, Queensland Firebird Romelda Aiken. While the Magic narrowly lost that epic contest of the ladder leaders, Tone-Fitzpatrick says the learnings gleaned from that match will come to play in their likely Finals Series meetings.

"It gave us another opportunity to adjust to the Aussie style of play and was a bit of a wake-up call for us in terms of our preparation for Firebirds,'' she said.

Tone-Fitzpatrick has had her eyes fixed on a netball career since the age of five. Not surprisingly, her ultimate goal is to represent New Zealand as a Silver Fern. In the meantime, she is content to balance her semi-professional netball career with her full-time studies, currently completing the first year of a law degree.

Tone-Fitzpatrick joins Chelsea Pitman in the growing list of nominees for the 2011 Best Young Player award. The remaining three nominees will be announced during Rounds 10 to 12, with the winner to be announced during ANZ Championship Grand Final week in May.

To be eligible for Best Young Player nomination, players must be aged 25 years or under as at 1 January of that year, must have taken the court at no more than five games in total across any previous ANZ Championship season/s, and must not have taken the court to represent their country in more than five test matches.


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