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North Otago netball teams will all be fighting to keep their spots tomorrow, when the netball season gets under way with the first of three grading rounds.

Nine teams have registered for the premier grade, with only eight spots available.

Valley, Maheno and Waitaki Girls’ High School have all entered two teams in the premier grade, while St Kevin’s College, Athletic and Kurow have entered one team each.

At the end of the three grading rounds, one team will drop down to the 1.2 grade, where 11 teams are fighting for eight places during grading, too.

North Otago Netball president Sonya Macdonald said the drop-downs would have a “flow” effect throughout the five grades, which would each end up with eight teams.

It was shaping up to be a tough competition.

“Which is great because it actually means that every game the teams are walking on the court for, you’re having to make it count. You can’t just sit on your laurels as such,” Macdonald said.

The calibre of teams fighting for spots in the premier and 1.2 grades was high, and would make for great netball.

“Everyone’s going to be turning up every week having hard, tight games, which is great. I think that pushes the level higher again because you’re having to play your best.

“You’re having to bring your top games to the court each Saturday to fight for that win.”

Player numbers were looking healthy across all the clubs at the start of the season, and it was great to see some new players registered, Macdonald said.

There were a lot of new people moving to North Otago, and it was encouraging to see them wanting to be part of the netball community, she said.

“I think the clubs and the schools have to have credit because they’ve got out there, and made themselves visible and opened their doors for people to be involved.

Macdonald expected Valley and Maheno to be strong again this season, and the school teams were always “unknown”, which was exciting.

“You don’t really get get a good indication with those sorts of teams until the early stages of the season … and that’s even more exciting because at the end of the day, then it’s anyone’s and that’s more exciting for netball across the board.”

The North Otago Netball Centre was in the process of organising its men’s league, which was expected to start after the three grading rounds.

The men’s team was still being finalised, and anyone interested in playing was encouraged to contact North Otago Netball at nonetballcentre@hotmail.com.

The round robin competition for all grades would start on May 29, and run through to August.

Semifinals would be held on August 14, and finals the following week.