THE 2016 season was a positive one for Tongala’s netball side — and this year could be even better.
Finishing the season third with a 13–1–4 record despite not having a full-strength side means the outlook is bright for 2017, according to coach Alicia White.
“That was a fantastic season last year considering we had so many injuries and a couple of pregnancies that didn’t help us,” White said.
“We stole a lot of our players from our B-grade team and a lot of our juniors came up, so that was great that we were able to give them a taste of senior netball.”
The opportunities given to the up-and-coming players sees Tongala enter this season with a deep squad.
And White said pre-season numbers had been strong as her side looks to take the next step. “We’re excited, we’ve had great numbers,” she said.
“Last year we really struggled to field four senior teams, whereas this year we’ve got some really talented players coming through.”
After finishing third on the table, Tongala beat Moama in an elimination final before going down in a semi- final to Deniliquin.
Basic skills let the side down, according to White.
“We’ve really tried to hone in on precision with our passing and not losing the ball, and choosing the right options when passing,” she said.
“That’s just going back to basics and nailing those targets.”
Abby Pettifer and Serena Backman return to the side, with their experience and talent strengthening the team.
Caddison Mulholland also joined the squad in the off-season from Shepparton United, providing class in linking defence and attack.
“It’s nice to have her back on board, she is very skilled,” White said.
“She’s a very talented girl who works very hard for our team. She’s the key to link our team together which I’ve no doubt she’ll do.”
The experience and depth of the Tongala squad sticks out as its strength heading into the new season.
“We have quite a bit of depth in our squad this year. If someone isn’t performing, there’s someone equally talented that can come on and perform,” White said.
“We’re not afraid to make changes. Last year we really mixed it up and we will do the same this year.”
White said her team expected similarly strong results this year, but knew a premiership would be a tough ask.
“We’re not putting pressure on ourselves, we’ve still got a similar team but with some fresh faces,” she said.
“It’s all about how we combine and link down the court. As long as we nail them, I think we should be okay.”