IT HAS been five months of dedicated training, sacrificing evenings out for gruelling fitness and technical sessions and thousands of practice shots on goal, but it was all worthwhile as the Hirsel Estates Development-sponsored Borders Under-17 district squad lifted the Performance Tier title in Glasgow at the weekend.
In a new initiative introduced by Netball Scotland this year, designed to identify and develop the talent of the best under-17 players in Scotland in the lead-up to the World Youth Netball Championships in 2013 and the 2014 Commonwealth Games, the top teams battled it out over several months to land the top honour.
Borders started well with a win against Glasgow (by 50-38) and a draw with South Lanarkshire at 55 goals apiece back in November.
However, one district, Perth began outstandingly, producing sensational scorelines and appearing a class above the other districts.
Borders had a few months to focus on taking on Perth, with the match scheduled for February. Tactics and planning paid off, resulting in a memorable game. Fitness made the difference in the end with a superb victory for Borders by 47-44.
A convincing win 30-18 win over Edinburgh left Borders and Perth the two districts in the running for Performance Tier title with one game left each to play.
The final day of play was last weekend in Glasgow, with Perth securing a win over Edinburgh, leaving Borders in the final match of the series needing a victory over Renfrewshire in order to win the title.
The match started tensely with a nervous Borders squad making heavy weather of the first quarter. Into the second quarter, they started to pick up on their set moves, but a half-time score of 27-17 in their favour was still too close for comfort.
Steadily, the girls dug in and a dazzling last quarter saw the Performance Tier title decided once and for all, with the Borders squad running out 50-33 winners.
Coach Linda Nicholson was delighted with the victory.
She told TheSouthern: “At the start of the season we didn’t even dream of winning the Performance Tier, but Lynn Hudson (team manager) and I have kept the girls focused and worked them hard, and today they got their reward for their dedication.”
The squad can now look forward to the award of medals for the victory in a ceremony in March.
Squad: Jo Pettitt (Capt) (GA/GS), Jenny Hudson (GS/GA), Susanne Krabbendam (GS), Neve McLean (WA), Mhairi Jackson (C/WD), Flora Gillies (C/WD), Hannah MacDonald (WD), Lauren Tait (GD), Hannah Crick (GK).