Hannah and Christina bath feature

University of Exeter Netball Sports Scholars Hannah Blackman (left) and Christina Shaw (right) 

Netball scholars finish 1st Team Bath U21 season on a high

University of Exeter Netball Sports Scholars Hannah Blackman and Christina Shaw have been part of the Team Bath Netball U21 squad’s campaign in the opening year of the U21 Netball Performance League (NPL)

In its 1st year the U21 NPL aims to bridge the gap between the U19 NPL and the Vitality Netball Superleague (VNSL). This gives young players the opportunity to train and compete in a performance environment, preparing them to progress into the VNSL. With 8 VNSL franchises competing in the opening year including Wasps, Hertfordshire Mavericks, Manchester Thunder, Team Bath, Surrey Storm, Team Northumbria, Loughborough Lightning and Severn Stars, competition has been fierce.

Team Bath U21 finished 5th in the table but have defeated Manchester Thunder who sit above them in 3rd in a thrilling 42-39 victory having been trailing for most of the game and are tied on points with Surrey Storm in 4th. Other strong performances included a 43-36 win against Loughborough Lightning and big wins against Severn Stars (59-36) and Team Northumbria (64-39) in their final game of the season. Bath were unlucky to lose narrowly to Surrey Storm by 5 goals and lost to a strong Hertfordshire Mavericks (41-54) and Wasps side (41-61). The squad now look ahead to preparing for the U21 NPL tournament in August.

With a definite Exeter presence in the Team Bath squad, alongside Hannah and Christina, Exeter Netball Club Regional 1 squad member Hannah Barnes received the call up for the final U21 game of the season, making her debut in the blue and gold. Similarly amongst the support staff Denise Ellis England U21 coach and Exeter Netball Club Regional 1 coach led the coaching team and Salli Byrne, current University of Exeter 1st team coach took on the role of team manager at a number of fixtures.

Reflecting on her involvement in Team Bath U21 Christina commented “Team Bath has been a completely new experience that I've thoroughly enjoyed.  The weekly training has been a massive benefit to me, receiving world class coaching and using world class facilities, whilst competing against some of the best players in England has really helped me to improve my game. Playing before the Team Bath VNSL games and having the home crowd to support the team was really motivating. The team has been fab this year and I've really enjoyed playing with a lovely group of girls”.

Hannah added “At Bath we've been playing in an elite high performance environment which and has been a great experience. I think my performance has improved a great deal thanks to the training sessions as well as being exposed to playing against girls who are of a really high standard. I have really enjoyed being given the opportunity to play at this level”.

Team Bath U21 NPL continue to train throughout the summer for the final NPL tournament in August-best of luck to Team Bath and all of the Exeter girls involved.

Date: 5 June 2017

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