2014 NSW Swifts recruit Gretel Tippett is looking forward to pulling on the Green & Gold when she runs out with the Australian Fast5 Flyers later this week for the 2013 Fast5 Netball World Series.
The three day tournament, which commences this Friday 8 November, is being held at Vector Arena in Auckland and will feature the top six national sides from around the world contesting the modified competition.
The tournament will also provide NSW Swifts’ fans with a preview of what to expect next season, with Tippett combining with 2014 teammates Carla Dziwoki and Susan Pratley – who earlier this week was announced as the Flyers co-captain – as well as rekindling with her Aussie 21U team member Paige Hadley.
The Flyers will also feature NSW junior representatives Ashleigh Brazill and Gabi Simpson, who will take the court for matches against the Fast5 Silver Ferns, England Fives, Jamaican Sunshine Girls, Malawi Queens and SPAR Proteas.
The 20 year-old goal shooter finds herself in unfamiliar territory, having yet to take the court for an ANZ Championship match – a scenario similar to her good friend and Australian 21U colleague Kimberley Ravaillion, who was called into the 2012 Fast5 side before playing a match for the Queensland Firebirds.
The fact that she hasn’t taken the court in the world’s premier domestic competition doesn’t worry Tippett, who says she is taking every opportunity that comes and learning as she goes.
“I can’t wait for Auckland – I’ll admit I’m a bit nervous, especially playing in front of the Kiwis who love their netball so much, but I’m ready to just soak it all in and give it a good crack,” Tippet told nswswifts.com.au before departing for the Flyers camp in Melbourne.
“I’m so excited to get together with the other players and start training together. It’s been tough training separately but we’ve all been putting in the hard yards and updating each other on our sessions, so we will be raring to go come the tournament.”
Tippett is also not foreign to wearing the Green & Gold. Much has been made of Tippett’s prior life as an emerging Basketball star in which she represented Australia at junior levels, whilst the 192cm shooter was also a member of the Silver Medal winning 2013 Australian 21U World Youth Cup side.
Despite making leaps and bounds in her netball career, Tippett says she will be drawing on some of her basketball experience during the Fast5 tournament.
“I’ve been practicing my long shots every day. [Flyers Head Coach] Jane Searle said to the shooters she expected us to be shooting our three-pointers at about 80 per cent. It’s a lot easier with a backboard – take that away and it’s a lot harder – but I‘m trying to master those three-pointers,” Tippett said.
“I’ve also been working really hard on my fitness because from what I’ve seen, Fast5 is such a fast game and even though each quarter is just six minutes [compared to the traditional 15 minutes] I know I’ll be gasping for air.”
So dedicated to preparing herself as best she could, Tippett was even training during a family holiday in Bali with the help of her brothers, AFL footballers Kurt and Joel, and boyfriend, Tom Nicholls.
“The boys had me out in the sun in the middle of the day running eight reps of 400 metres; it was so tough!” Tippett said.
“AFL players just run and run, covering long distances, whereas netballers we are used to short, sharp bursts. I think they secretly loved watching me suffer but hopefully the sessions would have paid off.”
Netball fans will be able to watch Tippett, along with her Swifts’ teammates Dziwoki, Hadley and Pratley, in action with FOX SPORTS 3 broadcasting all Fast5 Netball World Series games LIVE throughout the weekend.
The Aussies begin their campaign against 2012 Runners-Up, England Fives, who will be looking to go one better after being defeated by the New Zealand Fast5 Silver Ferns by two goals in last year’s decider.
Tune in from 2.45pm AESDT to watch the Jamaican Sunshine Girls and South African SPAR Proteas open proceedings, with the Australians taking the court at 3.30pm AESDT.
2013 Fast5 Netball World Series – Australian matches
Friday 8 November
Australian Fast5 Flyers v England Fives @ 3.30pm*
Australian Fast5 Flyers v Malawi Queens @ 5.15pm
Australian Fast5 Flyers v New Zealand Fast5 Silver Ferns @ 7.30pm
Saturday 9 November
Australian Fast5 Flyers v South Africa SPAR Proteas @ 3.45pm
Australian Fast5 Flyers v Jamaican Sunshine Girls @ 6pm *all times AESDT
2013 Australian Fast5 Flyers
Ashleigh Brazill* – West Coast Fever
Courtney Bruce – West Coast Fever
Tegan Caldwell – Melbourne Vixens
Carla Dziwoki – NSW Swifts
Paige Hadley* – NSW Swifts
Demelza McCloud – QLD Firebirds
Susan Pratley* – NSW Swifts
Gabi Simpson* – QLD Firebirds
Gretel Tippett – NSW Swifts
Jo Weston – Melbourne Vixens
Head Coach: Jane Searle
Assistant Coach: Jane Woodlands-Thompson *denotes NSW junior