Netballers perform well on big stage

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Two Oamaru netballers were part of the Dunedin under-17 netball team, which achieved its best ever placing at the national tournament on the North Shore last week.

St Kevin’s College pupil Merekite Wahitapu and Waitaki Girls’ High School’s Jennifer O’Connell were part of the side for the tournament.

Both girls received extensive game time and relished the opportunity to test themselves against some of the best up-and-coming netballers in the country.

Wahitapu said it was an awesome tournament to be involved with.

“It was great to be a part of; we played as well as we could and managed our goal of making the top four.”

The side went through pool play unbeaten and then defeated Kapi Mana 41-30 before knocking off Taranaki 34-27. The side fell to eventual winners Auckland 1 43-29, but recovered to claim the 3rd/4th match against Wellington 34-26.

While losing to Auckland was disappointing, Wahitapu said they were happy with the overall result.

“We scored the most goals out of anyone against them, so that’s a positive and we recovered well to get third so that was good.”

After moving from the circle into the mid-court for this year’s representative team, Wahitapu felt her tournament was a success.

“It was my first season in the centre position at representative level and it went well.”

O’Connell was pleased with her overall performance at the tournament.

“I’m happy with how I went. I recorded some really good shooting stats and now I’m looking to continue that with my school.”

The speed of the game was something both girls enjoyed.

“It’s a lot faster than the club stuff in Oamaru and up here in the North Island they play a completely different style so it was great to face that sort of style,” O’Connell said.

With both girls too old for the tournament next year, they will be trying to force their way into the under-19 side, which they look forward to.

By BRAYDEN LINDSAY

PHOTO: MICHAEL BRADLEY PHOTOGRAPHYMerekite Wahitapu reaches for the ball in her team’s semi-final loss to Auckland 1.