From program seller to squad member for Watson

Constellation Cup Game 4Australia Diamonds v New Zealand Silver FernsSix months ago Liz Watson was a volunteer selling programs at Australia’s Test match against New Zealand in Melbourne.

Never in her wildest dreams did Watson imagine that – just a few months later – she would go from that to being picked in the Australian Diamonds squad from which the final Commonwealth Games team will be named.

The 20-year-old midcourter is the fresh face in the Diamonds squad of 18 named by coach Lisa Alexander this week.

Her selection caps off a whirlwind couple of months for Watson, who only earned a call-up to the Melbourne Vixens squad just before February’s ANZ Championship pre-season tournament to replace Elissa Kent (nee Macleod), who’s pregnant with her first child.

Watson said she was stunned when told the news of her national squad selection.

“I still can’t believe this has happened,” Watson said. “I’m still in shock about being a Vixens player and it still surprises me to be getting a starting position.

“To be named in the Diamonds squad was something that I never thought in my dreams would come this early. I’m just so grateful for this opportunity and of course I’ll take it with both hands and give it my best shot.”

She was reminded of her rapid rise when a picture of her selling the Test series program was tweeted by her friend Chloe Watson during the week.

“She messaged me and said `who would have thought six months later you’d be in the squad’,” Watson said.

She may have only played seven ANZ Championship matches, but Alexander has been impressed by Watson’s performances against the likes of experienced international players Laura Langman, Jade Clarke and Kimberlee Green. _MCA7917Li

“She’s had a good test out there on court this season against some quality opposition and she’s a big part of why the Vixens are on top of the ladder at the moment,” Alexander said.

“The fortunate thing for myself as national coach is I get to watch a lot of our underage nationals and I watched in particular the 21/U nationals last year and Liz really impressed me there.

“I know when (Vixens coach) Simone (McKinnis) was discussing the sort of players she was going to look to (replace Kent), I was very excited when she mentioned Liz’s name and it’s fantastic. She’s played really consistently.”

Watson said she’s learnt so much already in her time at the Vixens and from the world-class opponents she’s match up against.

“The ANZ Champs is a whole other level from what I’m used to,” Watson said. “Each week I feel like I’m getting stronger on court and learning new things.

“Players like Langman and Green I’ve grown up watching and idolising, so to be able to step out on court against them has been incredible. They’re great players and all have such great strengths so I’ve definitely learnt things I need to work on in my own game.

“So playing on those opponents has given me an insight to what it’s going to be like at the next level.”

The squad will attend a three-day selection camp in Canberra between 5-7 May, after which the Commonwealth Games team will be named. Alexander said it will be tough choosing her final 12 looking to win Australia’s first gold medal since 2002. lisa

“It’s a very hard job and we feel our responsibility enormously,” Alexander said.

“Australia needs to win this gold medal so we’ve got to make sure we put a team together that’s really tough mentally and being able to back up physically in a tournament day in, day out.”

2014 Australian Diamonds Squad: Karyn BAILEY (Melbourne Vixens/NT), Caitlin BASSETT (West Coast Fever/WA), Erin BELL (Adelaide Thunderbirds/NSW), Rebecca BULLEY (Adelaide Thunderbirds/VIC), Tegan CALDWELL (Melbourne Vixens/VIC), Bianca CHATFIELD (Melbourne Vixens/VIC), Julie CORLETTO (Northern Mystics/VIC), Laura GEITZ (Queensland Firebirds/QLD), Kimberlee GREEN (NSW Swifts/ NSW), Renae HALLINAN (Adelaide Thunderbirds/VIC), Sharni LAYTON (NSW Swifts/VIC), Natalie MEDHURST (West Coast Fever/SA), Susan PRATLEY (NSW Swifts/NSW), Kim RAVAILLION (Queensland Firebirds/NSW), Madi ROBINSON (nee BROWNE) (Melbourne Vixens/VIC), Gabi SIMPSON (Queensland Firebirds/NSW), Caitlin THWAITES (NSW Swifts/VIC), Elizabeth WATSON (Melbourne Vixens/VIC).