Netball: Pride prepares for battle

BALLARAT Pride is close to finalising its squads for a new Victorian Netball League season.

Pride has undertaken an extensive recruiting phase in a bid to become more competitive.

Fed Uni Pride has expanded its overall player base by more than 10 through recruitment to its championship, division one and 19-and-under squads alongside two development teams.

The last two weeks of its pre-season will feature an intense training camp, which will include practice games against a composite men’s team.

The home and away season starts on Wednesday, February 12.

Club administrator Jordan O’Keefe is confident the championship squad will improve on its one win and one draw in 2013.

“Across the board it’s evident to us that the championship team needs to start putting in stronger performances if we want to stay in the VNL,” O’Keefe said.

“We’ve been able to get some players who will give us height at both ends of the court as well as get some more depth through the centre.

“There were so many people coming to talent identification (more than 30 in the 19-and-under tryouts alone), that we’ve been able to

find a lot of local raw talent

to go alongside the players we’ve picked up from other clubs.

“Everyone has been really responsive to the pre-season that Jo Peoples and Melissa Beaston have set out and we’ve got enough players in our development squads that

we’ll hopefully be able to cover any injuries to the

championship and division one sides.”

This year’s squads encompass a strong blend of new and experienced players from around the Central Highlands, metropolitan, Geelong, Wimmera and Mallee regions, but will be without important players Gina McCartin, Jordyn Bibby and Emma Wright.

Pride’s season will begin against Boroondara Genesis at the State Netball and Hockey Centre.

SQUADS

CHAMPIONSHIP: Emma Ryan, Emma Farrant (promoted from division one), Sarah Milton (recruited from Brown Hill), Laura McDonald (19/under), Johanna Dash, Lauren Atkinson, Cassie Peace (Dela), Sharni Godfrey (recruit), Cindy Daniel (Dela), Birgitta Nemaric (recruit).

DIVISION ONE: Maddi Davis (19-under/Dela), Rachel Dovaston, Jess Abela (19/under), Sally Portbury, Chelsea Ross (championship), Deane Tuppen (VU Western Lightning), Tara Fisher (recruit), Lilly Walsh (Melbourne).

19/UNDER: Hailey Fidler (development), Kelly Conroy, Ruby Parry (recruit), Rylee Connell, Katherine Dicker, Amy Starzer, Ashlea Melnikas (division one), Chelsea Sartori (recruit), Tay Mentha (recruit), Madison Gay (recruit).

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