National selectors believe Gretel Tippett’s elite basketball background will make her a dangerous weapon for the Australian Fast5 team at November’s Fast5 Netball World Series in New Zealand.
While she is yet to make her ANZ Championship debut, Tippett has been named in the squad of 10 players for the three-day tournament in Auckland from 8-10 November.
Tippett will be joined by Australian 21/U teammates Gabi Simpson, Paige Hadley, Courtney Bruce and Jo Weston in getting their first exposure to international netball at the top level.
Australian Fast5 coach Jane Searle said it would be an ideal introduction to elite netball for Tippett, who has signed with the NSW Swifts for the 2014 season.
The 20-year-old represented Australian underage basketball sides and also played in the WNBL, where she was named the Rookie of the Year for the 2010/11 season before deciding to switch to netball last year.
“I haven’t seen a lot of Gretel in action but we believe that her basketball background and her athleticism will be a benefit for her and the team,” Searle said.
“She’s played at the highest level in basketball and she’s a shooter in netball. We’ve overloaded our goal end with shooters we think have an ability to put up the outside shots but who are also reliable under the post.
“That’s one of the reasons why Gretel is in this team. The Fast5 format really accentuates some of the skills needed to be successful and shooting is crucial. We’ve gone for shooters that can turn around and put the shot up.”
The Fast5 World Series is played under modified competition rules, which includes just five players on court – without wing defence or wing attack – and scoring areas for one, two or three goals.
Games are played over four six-minute quarters with unlimited rolling substitutions and a Powerplay quarter where goals for that period are doubled.
The team features defender Demelza McCloud, who was recently recalled to the Australian Diamonds team after an absence of eight years. Shooters Susan Pratley and Tegan Caldwell and midcourter Ashleigh Brazill have also been part of Diamonds squads and teams.
Searle said she’s looking forward to seeing how the Australian 21/U players perform at the next level.
“It’s the first time they would have been up against the New Zealand Silver Ferns and England, so it will be a great test for them,” Searle said.
“But they will have gained a lot of experience from being involved in the upcoming World Youth Netball Championships and we’re confident they can maintain that momentum going into the Fast5 World Series.”
Selectors have chosen a good blend of youth and experience in the side and Searle said the Fast5 World Series was an opportunity to push their claims for future Diamonds selection.
“I think we’ve got a really exciting team,” Searle said.
“Our experienced players have got an eye on next year’s Commonwealth Games as well as the 2015 Netball World Cup in Sydney, so they are keen to show they’re capable of learning to play a different style of netball, experimenting with their games and still wanting to be the best.
“We’ve also got the up-and-coming stars of Australian netball. We’ve gone with a quick side that can move the ball fast and still have good skills and so I’m excited to be part of the Fast5 World Series. The format lends itself to experimentation and creative plays.”
Adelaide Thunderbirds championship-winning coach Jane Woodlands-Thompson will be an assistant coach with the team and Searle is looking forward to working with her at International level.
“We’ve had some great talks already discussing strategy and we’re both keen to work together and do well with the Fast5 team,” Searle said.
“We’re looking forward to sharing ideas and strategies.”
The Australian Fast5 Team for the Fast5 Netball World Series is: Ashleigh BRAZILL (West Coast Fever), Courtney BRUCE (West Coast Fever), Tegan CALDWELL (Melbourne Vixens), Carla DZIWOKI (NSW Swifts), Paige HADLEY (NSW Swifts), Demelza McCLOUD (Queensland Firebirds), Susan PRATLEY (NSW Swifts), Gabi SIMPSON (Queensland Firebirds), Gretel TIPPETT (NSW Swifts), Jo WESTON (Melbourne Vixens).