Wasps Netball Academy will open its 2019/20 campaign this weekend when the Under 19 and Under 21 squads take on Surrey Storm at Worcester Arena in Round 1 of the Netball Performance League (NPL).
In the Academy’s short history, the U19 squad finished in third place in 2017/18, progressing to the runners-up spot in 2018/19.
The natural challenge facing Lesley Blair’s young squad is whether they can take the next step and top the table this season.
"The squad is developing year on year and we always believe we have the chance of lifting the title," said Wasps Netball Academy Manager and Head Coach Blair.
"We have had a lot of personnel changes with players moving age-groups, but the belief and desire is still there. To be able to build on what we have already achieved with this largely new squad is really exciting.
"Adding fresh, new talent to the group also keeps everyone on their toes and I am looking forward to seeing young shooter Poppy Baker make her mark. Despite being only 16, she is showing skill and composure beyond her years.
"Kitty Luscombe's work ethic and tenacity will be key in defence and finally Jessie Duckers joining us for her first season, brings a level of creativity and flair not seen in many players and this is welcomed!
"This weekend, whilst we have been working on different combinations, you can expect to see Wasps U19s coming out hard and see players ready to make an impact."
The additional coaching line-up of Josie Huckle and Pam Hesson along with Team Manager Louise Middleton, will put the U19s in the best position to get off to a great start and build as the season progresses.
The squad will undoubtedly be looking to emulate the success of the Black and Golds' U21 squad who dominated their competition last year to be crowned the undefeated champions of the U21 NPL for 2018/19.
A brand-new coaching line-up sees Sophie Masterson take the helm this season, assisted by Charlotte Hall. Sophie comes to Wasps with an impressive netball background, having played for England as an U19 at Netball Europe and also with Team Bath at Superleague level. She still plays for local side Linden in Prem 2 and is currently training to be a teacher.
Sophie and Charlotte are both excited at the opportunity to support the U21s in this season’s campaign and will be supported by experienced Team Manager Nicky Miles. Tamsin Greenway will also offer her vast experience and analytical expertise to support the squad in their quest to retain their title.
This year the U21s are a mix of players with lots of experience and new players to the squad. Sophie is particularly excited about the talent on show within centre court and both Ellie Rattu and Ruth Hughes will bring plenty of flair as well as experience both on and off the court.