The 2011 Holden Netball Test Series was an overwhelming success both on and off the court for the Australian Diamonds, with unprecedented Test match attendances and community engagements.
The longest domestic tour in the national team’s 73-year history saw the Diamonds take in six Tests in six cities; a three-Test series against England and New Zealand, and a four week expedition around Australia.
Much can be said of the Diamonds’ on-court success this tour, making a clean sweep of the England series before going on to win the New Zealand series 2-1 to retain the Constellation Cup and regain the world number one status.
With a new coach at the helm in Lisa Alexander, the Diamonds showed fighting spirit in their victories over the Silver Ferns while the national team’s depth and bright future was evidenced by the fine form of players such as Caitlin Bassett, Madison Browne and Erin Bell.
The three players, along with Kim Green at centre, helped the Diamonds in the third and deciding Test at Hisense Arena on Sunday to overcome a six-goal half-time deficit to beat their more experienced Silver Ferns counterparts by three.
Their never say die attitude only further helped to enhance the team’s reputation as one of the country’s finest national teams with a wealth of on field success, including the 2011 World Netball Championship, and off field role models.
The team’s successful series extended well beyond the four boundaries of the netball court with Test match attendance figures at a record high for the Diamonds.
Playing to sold out venues in Newcastle, Perth and Melbourne made for electric atmospheres while the Diamonds v England fixture in Sydney set a new attendance record for a match between the two teams, with over 10,000 turning out at Allphones Arena.
The Diamonds returned to Perth for the first time since 2004, with the match at Burswood Dome selling out a day after ticket went on sale.
The Diamonds v Silver Ferns fixture in Perth was part of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) sporting festival; a double header which featured Malawi beating South Africa in the curtain raiser to the eagerly anticipated World Netball Championships rematch.
Away from the Test arena, the Diamonds spent much of their free time in the community, holding community netball clinics in Newcastle and Perth for hundreds of young aspiring players along with signing autographs and posing for pictures.
Acting captain Catherine Cox was joined by the captains of New Zealand, South Africa and Malawi for a visit to Balga Senior High School in Perth’s northern suburbs.
The multi-cultural school welcomed the captains for a netball clinic for indigenous and refugee students with a ceremony featuring the school’s student population and traditional welcome.
In Canberra the Diamonds were invited to a parliamentary dinner where they spent the evening connecting with some of the country’s most influential figures.
With the 2015 World Netball Championships in Sydney looming, the success of 2011 gives a fantastic platform to continue building on ... exciting times ahead for our sport!
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