WALLAN A Grade netball coach Chris Cameron expects his side to be among the top contenders for the Riddell District Football Netball League crown this season.
The Magpies were cast from the finals in 2019 after a one-goal semi-final loss to eventual premier Rupertswood, followed by a nine-goal defeat to Macedon in the preliminary final.
But after a year off during which the team recruited star goaler Tahnysha Salanoa – who last played for Rupertswood – Cameron said his charges were primed to compete for the premiership.
“We were able to retain pretty much all of our A Grade side. The only players we’ve lost are Matilda Lethlean and Katie Loader, but we were able to pick up Tahnysha,” he said.
“She’s got an extensive Victorian Netball League background and she played for Samoa. She’s only going to strengthen our attack. With her netball CV and credentials, she’s a great player to have on our side.”
Gemma Grimmond and Chloe Meulenmeesters will co-captain the team with Sidonie Moore as vice-captain.
Cameron said a round-one match against Romsey at Greenhill Reserve on Saturday would be an ideal first-up test for the squad.
“I know all the girls are really hungry this year, and with our current team I think they’re a real look in to go all the way,” he said.
“We’re eager for round one to kick off and see what all the other teams put out on the court.”
Romsey president Adam Rademaker said the netball side would have a new look in 2021 after upheaval during the cancelled 2020 season.
Kiara Taylor has stepped in to coach the Redbacks’ A Grade team, and Rademaker said she was rising to the challenge.
“We’ve got a totally fresh and new A Grade side,” he said.
“Two weeks ago we didn’t have an A Grade side, but we have got one together now, which is fantastic. We’re a little bit short in the under-19s, but we’ve got some really talented under-17 girls who are stepping up into that age group.
“They’ll be okay and should be pushing for finals. They’ve got plenty of talent.”
Lancefield has a round-one bye before hosting Wallan at Lancefield Park in round two on April 24.
A Grade coach Michelle Rix said this year would be about rebuilding the club’s netball program after a winless campaign in 2019.
“For two years we couldn’t field four teams, and this year it’s very exciting that we’ve filled our four teams quite easily,” she said.
“We’ve got some young players in the A Grade team, and we’re rebuilding that. We’ve got some under-19s who will get opportunities to play, so we’re looking to develop our younger players.
“We’ve got Meg Dalgleish, who is a local Lancefield girl who has come through our junior program.
“Darcee Ellard has also come through our junior program, and they’re two that we’re looking at in A Grade. They played in our practice matches and really stood up – you wouldn’t have known they were under-19s.
“It’s really promising to have tall and athletic girls like that coming through.”
Rix said the season would be measured not in wins and losses, but the development of the Tigers’ young players.
“We just want to build on our local girls and make a sustainable future for our club. We’re connecting well with our junior club to make sure we’ve got the pathway for them,” she said.