The 2017 Fast5 tournament is finally upon is with some world class athletes ready to grace Hisense Arena and thrill us all. All teams are now in Melbourne and ready to claim that elusive title that New Zealand have a stranglehold of.
However 2017 sees New Zealand field the most inexperienced team out of all six competing countries.
|Country||World Series Appearances||Athletes Played in 3 Series’||Athletes Played in 2 Series’||
Athletes Played in 1
|Athletes Debuting in 2017|
Australia has four players that played in last season’s tournament in Paige Hadley, Kate Moloney (this year’s captain), Kate Shimmin and Gretel Tippett. Kate Shimmin will be playing in her fourth Fast5 tournament. Last year she was one of Australia’s best playing in all six games, taking four intercepts, deflecting the ball seven times and she had eight defensive rebounds.
Gretel Tippett will be looking for a big tournament as she will be Australia’s most experienced shooter. This will be her third series previously competing in 2013 and 2016. Tegan Philip last played in 2013 and Kaylia Stanton will be making her debut.
The reigning champs go into this tournament with the most inexperienced team. Kayla Cullen is the only squad member to play in more than one series but she hasn’t played Fast5 since 2014. Half the New Zealand squad will be experiencing the Fast5 Netball World Series for the first time.
One future superstar to look out for from New Zealand will be Maia Wilson. The 188cm shooter shot a very impressive 35 goals from 47 attempts for 53 points in 2016. She also feed into the circle 24 times and took 13 offensive rebounds which was the tournaments highest.
England have one of the more experienced line-ups with only two players making their debut in Natalie Haythornthwaite and Gabriella Marshall. On the flip side they have three of the most experienced netballers in the tournament with the Ama Abgeze (35 years young), Rachel Dunn (35 years young) and Geva Mentor (33 years young).
A player who has had a fabulous 2016 and no doubt she hopes for it to continue is Jo Harten. The always competitive Harten was one of England’s best last year. She scored 120 points (third best) which included 15 one-point goals, 24 two-point goals and six three-point goals. She also took an intercept, deflected the ball three times and did six offensive rebounds.
Last year’s Bronze medallist are the most experienced with four players having played in three series with only one debutant. They will need all this experience as their superstar Mwai Kumwenda will not be playing. Malawi is the only side that does not have a player over 6 foot. Joyce Mvula is their tallest at 182cm (5 foot 11 inches). On the flip side they have the four shortest players at 160cm (5 foot 2 inches). What they lose in height, the determination and will to win is always evident.
Two of their pocket rockets is Takondwa Lwazi and Thandie Galeta whose experience will be vital to Malawi’s success. Last year they shared the Centre role with Lwazi doing 71 circle feeds which was the tournament’s most with Thandie Galeta having 48. Lwazi and Galeta were one-two for goals assists with 21 and 18 respectively.
Jamaica has a fairly even squad with seven players already experiencing the electric atmosphere of Fast5. Vangelee Williams will be the tournament’s most experienced player with this weekend being her fifth series. She debuted in 2012 and has played every series since. Last season she received the centre pass 16 times (second most for Jamaica), took two intercepts and three defensive rebounds.
Jamaica also has the only teenager in the competition. Shimona Nelson is a 19 year old shooter who will get her chance to play alongside the Jamaican captain Jhaniele Fowler-Reid. Fowler-Reid last played Fast5 in 2013 but her 2016 and 2017 seasons for the Southern Steel have been outstanding so if she can bring that form to Hisense Arena, Jamaica will have every chance to feature in the medal play-offs.
South Africa is the second most inexperienced side with five debutantes. However they do have four players that played in last year’s tournament so they will be looking for a better placed finish where they only managed one draw and five loses. They weren’t far off though, drawing with England and the 5th v 6th placed playoff against Jamaica went into extra time where they eventually lost by 2 points.
The South African’s have the tournament’s tallest player with Fikile Mkhuzangwe standing at 200cm or 6 foot 6 inches tall. Last year was her first Fast5 experience and she managed 29 centre pass receives, four intercepts (most for South Africa) and six deflections. No doubt this experience will serve her well this weekend.
By Christian Eshman, Sports Manager Champion Data
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