THE Under 14 Netball team from The Maynard School in Exeter is now officially ranked as one of the top netball teams in the country, following a fantastic performance at the Regional finals of the National Schools Competition on Saturday, January 21.
In an action packed tournament, the team beat some major competition to book their spot at the national finals to be held in Welwyn Garden City in March.
Representing Devon as the County Champions, the team won against rival netball heavyweights including Millfield, Cheltenham Ladies College, Royal High School (Bath) and Talbot Heath to finish top of their pool and meet Truro School in the semi-finals of this gruelling all-day tournament.
“This was the most tense of all their games and not fun to watch,” said The Maynard School’s Director of Sport, Catharine Gabbitass.
She added: “All bar three of our team had been off school with a nasty virus in the days leading up to the Regionals and, at one point, I wasn’t sure if we would have a team to play at all. But they weren’t going to pass up the opportunity lightly and it was a blessed relief when they all appeared at the bus for a 6.30am start on the morning.
“However, by the semi-finals many were beginning to wane, energy levels were sapped and some players, including our captain, were really beginning to show the strain.
“Despite a slow start, they got into their rhythm and pegged back an early disadvantage to score comfortably in the end.
“The top two teams automatically win a place at the finals and, safe in the knowledge we had achieved this, I took a strategic decision to rest some of our more poorly members.
“So we played the whole squad, changed a few positions in the process and went with the attitude that what happened in the final was of no particular consequence. As a result, we lost against a very strong Canford side but it didn’t matter as we had done what we set out to do and that was go through to the national finals!”
This incredible performance puts The Maynard team as one of the top two teams throughout the South West, including the whole of Cornwall, Devon, Somerset, Dorset, Avon, Wiltshire, and Gloucestershire.
“It’s a fantastic result to qualify but I’m not surprised,” added Mrs Gabbitass. “I’ve always considered them the South West’s dream team and they have a very bright future ahead of them. But what pleased me most was their attitude and one referee even alluded to their great sportsmanship on our ‘Facebook’ page saying” “They were a pleasure to umpire too, all very responsive and clean players.” Now that makes me proud!”