NSW 19/U Team kick-starts Nationals Campaign

The New South Wales 19/U Team is gearing up for a huge Nationals campaign, with the team beginning their 2013 preparations with their first training session on Tuesday evening at Anne Clark Centre.

2013 19/U National Netball Championships: Monday 8 – Saturday 13 April. Darwin Basketball Association and Marrara Indoor Stadium in Darwin, Northern Territory

The team will be looking to go one better at this year’s tournament, after finishing Runners-Up in 2012 to old rivals Victoria who defeated the Sky Blues by eight goals in the Grand Final.

18-year old Claudia Russell was part of that 2012 team, and will again run out for the 19/U side in this season’s tournament.

“Coming so close at the 19/U Nationals last year was disappointing, but I’m ready to go one better at this year’s tournament,” said Claudia.

“It’s really exciting to have the whole team together, to be back into training and hitting the court for the first time this year.”

The 188cm goal shooter had a huge 2012 season; starting with the 19/U Nationals, Claudia also helped her Hunter United team to the DOOLEYS State League Waratah Cup Finals (Hunter finished in fourth place), and was selected in the Netball NSW Waratahs for her debut Australian Netball League season.

“Last year really took me by surprise, especially being selected into the NNSW Waratahs…it was a fantastic experience to be in the side, learning from Sue Hawkins and my teammates; I definitely think my game has improved since then,” Claudia commented.

Amidst all of this netball, Claudia also found time to graduate from high school and take home one of the state’s top awards – the Sporting Blues Award.

The award is the highest sporting honour for NSW public school students, and was presented on behalf of the NSW Combined High Schools (CHS) Sports Association.  Claudia accepted the award at a ceremony held at Homebush in December, with some of the state’s best athletes in attendance.

“I didn’t expect the award at all, but it’s nice to be recognised for all the hard work that you put in at training and during matches.”

Now deep in preparations for an even bigger 2013, Claudia travels from her Newcastle base to Sydney three times a week to train with the 19/U team at the Anne Clark Centre.

“I’m so excited to head to Darwin for the Nationals tournament in April – hopefully we can bring home the 19/U title.”

2013 NSW 19/U Team Lauren Cantel, Zoe Gilbert, Tahlia Goodwin, Billie Gurr, Madeline Hay, Isabella Keogh, Brooke Lawrence, Stephanie MacGougan, Gloria Masiasomua, Claudia Russell, Tanisha Stanton, Peti Talanoa. Head Coach: Joanne Macdermid Assistant Coach: Leonie Stewart-Weeks Manager: Maureen Stephenson