Henley Hawks Netball’s junior players got their first taste of competition at a recent local tournament hosted by Laurel Park Netball Club. The 9 teams, ranging from U9s to U18s, were able to gain valuable match experience by competing against other clubs across Berkshire. The club was able to field teams in every age category despite only launching a juniors programme earlier this year.
Tawny Owls and Barn Owls (U9) played a round-robin series of matches and both teams improved with each match. At the end of the tournament, Tawny Owls finished in second place in the group after a brilliant 5-1 win against Laurel Park Black. Barn Owls weren’t far behind, finishing in third place.
Henley Hobbys (U10) had a great morning’s play, bagging some excellent results against local rivals. The team found a number of solid new playing partnerships and combinations and all the players put their training into practice with lots of well-timed moves towards the ball.
Henley Merlins (U11), played some faultless netball with the team finishing the majority of their games without any unforced errors. The team played with great energy throughout the morning and were rewarded with a number of wins as they progressed.
Henley Falcons (U12) made massive improvements during the competition, getting closer to their opponents in each match and just being pipped to third spot in the Plate competition in their final game. The team’s hard work shows a great sign for future matches.
The afternoon’s competitions saw the older players take to court and the Henley Ospreys (U13) gained so much confidence through their series of matches assured them as the tournament progressed. In their final match, their brilliant passages of play saw them seal third place in the Plate competition with a 7-0 win.
Henley Harriers (U14) played consistently all afternoon, drawing most of their matches and again, progressing with every game. The team’s attack and defence both really improved as the afternoon went on and the on-court attitude of the players could not be faulted as they worked hard for every possession.
Henley Kestrels (U16) did exceptionally well, playing solidly in every match. This team deserves a special mention as their final game had to be paused when one of the team sustained an injury. After an extended break, Kestrels took to court to finish their match and came back from 0-4 down to win 5-4. This was an inspired performance and rightly earned the girls rousing cheers from all those supporting on the side lines.
Henley Buzzards (U18) had some incredibly skillful play that saw them win the Plate competition. A combination of accurate shooting, smooth midcourt play and a defensive partnership that gave the opposition no room in their shooting circle saw the Buzzards reap the rewards for an afternoon of hard work and huge progress.
Totie Thomas, Club Chair said, “The tournament was a huge success for all involved, it was filled with fantastic netball, fun, camaraderie and big smiles. The juniors gave it their all and what an amazing group of young people our club has – they are a real credit to Henley Hawks Netball and to themselves. So many players were also playing up age categories so did exceptionally well against older and more experienced teams.”
“A big thank you must go to our coaching team and volunteers as the club could not have
provided this opportunity for our young players without their time and dedication. This tournament will definitely be the first of many and I think we made it obvious that Henley Hawks Netball is the new club on the block!”
A number of players were awarded with Player’s Player (PP) and Coaches’ Player (CP) for their skill and commitment to the sport. Those mentioned were:
Barn Owls – Sophia Luitjen (PP) and Georgia Luitjen (CP),
Tawny Owls – Serenna Birkett (PP) and Ida Tomlinson (CP),
Hobbys – Mabel Reed-Ryan (PP) and Minnie Excell (CP),
Merlins – Daisy Goforth (PP) and Amber Cook (CP),
Falcons – Freya Weatherston (PP) and Mya Brooks (CP),
Ospreys – Emily Mir (PP) and Alice Barton (CP),
Harriers – Leila Cranstoun (PP) and India Clarke (CP),
Kestrels – Neve Beech (PP) and Alix Maxwell (CP),
Buzzards – Flo Rait (PP) and Chloe Pendlebury (CP).