For the first time in five years, every state and territory will be represented at the 2012 21/U National Netball Championships with the return of Northern Territory and Tasmania to the underage tournament.
While all eight sides will be gunning to claim national honours, and bring an end to New South Wales four year dominance of the 21/U title, the upcoming 2013 World Youth Netball Championships are also firmly in mind for the players, coaches and selectors.
This year’s National Championships in Perth will play a significant role in shaping the team that Australia takes to Glasgow, Scotland next year to defend the World Youth Netball Championships title it won in the Cook Islands three years ago.
“It’s very exciting; for the first time in a long time, we’ve got eight teams with every state and territory represented,” Australian 21/U coach Carol Byers said.
“They’re all in Perth to put their best out there on court and really try to make this World Youth Netball Championships squad.”
An Australian 21/U squad will be announced at the conclusion of the championships. That squad will attend a selection camp at the Australian Institute of Sport where a team of 12 will be named to contest a warm-up tournament in Ballarat, Victoria.
The 21/U International Netball Series in August will provide the players with valuable international experience against the different styles of New Zealand, England, South Africa and Samoa ahead of next year’s world championships.
Standing between now and then is the 2012 21/U National Netball Championships where NSW will be aiming to secure their fifth consecutive title.
NSW will again be the team to beat with six players, Nicola Gray, Amy Sommerville, Mel Tallent, Paige Hadley, Gabi Simpson and Samantha Poolmanall returning from last year’s winning side.
Victoria, the last side to win the 21/U title in 2007 before NSW began their latest dynasty, finished second last year for the third time in four years and have five returning players including Melbourne Vixens’ Micaela Wilson, who will be eager to see that dominance come to an end.
South Australia, second in 2010, boast four ANZ Championship players in their line-up, with Cody Lange, Madeline Proud, Kate Shimmin and Amehlia Schmidt all returning to contest the 21/U championship for another year.
After finishing fourth at last year’s championship, Queensland have declared they’re aiming to finish in the top three. Nine of their players are from the state’s 2010 19/U championship winning team, along with former Australian 19/U basketballerGretel Tippett.
It’s been seven years since Western Australia last won the 21/U tournament, incredibly just two years before defending stalwart Mia Washbourne made her 21/U National Netball Championship debut in 2008, the last time Perth hosted the competition.
The Australian Capital Territory, sixth last year, will be hoping to improve on their best ever finish of fifth (2010 and 2009). The ACT will be looking to defender Keely Rodrigo, the territory’s first ever Australian netball representative after selection in the 21/U team last year, to provide the experience.
After a one year hiatus, Tasmania returns to the 21/U National Netball Championships and are looking to continue their impressive run of results at this year’s nationals after the state enjoyed their equal best finish with fifth at the 17/U National Championships.
The Northern Territory make a return to the 21/U National Netball Championships for the first time since 2007 (seventh). The territory has contested only four 21/U tournaments since 2000, which includes a fifth place finish in 2002.
Other Leading News