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Maitland under-17s keen to impress at Senior State Titles

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They might be one of the youngest squads in the division, but Maitland District Netball Association’s under-17s aren’t there to make up numbers at this weekend’s 2023 HART Senior State Titles.

In fact, the local outfit is keen to impress all and sundry when Maitland Park hosts the prestigious Netball NSW tournament from Saturday 10 to Monday 12 June.

More than 5,000 people – from players to coaches, support staff to supporters – are expected to converge on the venue, which will stage opens (championship), under-15s and under-17s (Div 1 and 2), as well as open male (Div 1 and 2).

Maitland, coached by Kim Starkey and managed by Linda Gabriel, faces a stern test against the likes of Barellan & District, Bathurst, Blue Mountains, Callaghan District, Cessnock, Charlestown, Coffs Harbour, Griffith, Hawkesbury City, Inner West, Lakeside, Mudgee District, Nambucca Valley, Orange, Southern Highlands, Tamworth and Wagga Wagga.

Maitland District Netball Association’s under-17s – Leah Barton, Mia Chapman, Grace Gadsby, Chloe McLellan, Ava Murdoch, Rihanna Quinn, Lucy Robinson, Ellie Stacey and Issabelle Trichlin – with manager Linda Gabriel. Photo: Rod Thompson

However, their manageress believes the girls – Leah Barton, Mia Chapman, Grace Gadsby, Chloe McLellan, Ava Murdoch, Rihanna Quinn, Lucy Robinson, Ellie Stacey and Issabelle Trichlin – will give a good account of themselves over the three days.

“A number of them were in the under-15s last year, but we’ve picked up one [player] from the under-17s and a newcomer to rep netball,” Gabriel said.

“So, they’re all quite familiar with each other, several go to school together, too.

“They’ve gelled well throughout the season.

“They have also trained strongly, played Regional League on the Central Coast and contested a few carnivals to prepare for the championships.

“They’ve been quite successful – and probably won the majority of their games so far.

“But, we’ve still had certain areas to work on.

“During the lead-up events, we have tweaked things to ready ourselves for the weekend.”

In 2023, Maitland will contest division two, meeting several familiar foes along the way.

“We’ve played half the teams previously, so we know we were competitive against them,” Gabriel said.

“However, the Newcastle area sides – like Charlestown – and a few of the metropolitan ones are dangers in the draw.

“If we can finish in the mid or top half, we’ll be happy, or we might surprise ourselves and make top two or three… it’s all achievable.

“But, a lot of the time, there are things out of your control, such as injuries or unknown opposition.

“So, it is what it is.

“And, the Senior State Titles will be a good experience for everyone.”

Gabriel admitted one major positive was playing at home.

“We’re all totally stoked about it,” she told the Newcastle Weekly.

“Kim and I are trying to keep things as normal as we can.

“We’ll still have dinner together at night, as if we were away, however the nice parts will be sleeping in our own beds and not getting up three hours before we take to the courts.

“It’s going to be a fantastic weekend.

“Over the years, the Maitland committees have put a lot of work and effort into getting the facilities to where they are now.

“We’re very proud of what we’ve achieved and even prouder to be hosting the titles and bringing the whole state here.

“I think people will be surprised by how good Maitland Park is.”

The remaining fixtures – opens (Div 2 and 3), under-15s and under-17s (Div 3 and 4) – will be played at the Newcastle Netball Association.

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