St Mary's Mayo lines up national double
RACING EDITOR AND COLLEGE SPORT WRITER
Emma Mayo will be having a ball over the school holidays.
The St Mary's College head girl will be competing in both the secondary schools basketball nationals in Nelson this week and at the netball nationals in Timaru next week.
It will be a testing schedule, and Mayo will be the only Wellington player doubling up.
Few players get the choice, regardless of their talent and commitment, as it is not often that Wellington schools qualify for the nationals in both codes.
Only three Wellington teams - St Mary's, Sacred Heart and Wellington East - qualified for the netball nationals, with St Mary's and Wellington Girls' making the cut for the basketball.
"It's a dream come true," said Mayo who is accustomed to juggling the demands of both sports.
"I made a commitment to both teams this year and they have been really understanding, which has made it quite easy for me."
Mayo, who said she had no real preference for one code over the other, attended the netball tournament last year, but qualifying for the basketball finals was a first for St Mary's.
"The basketball tournament used to be held in Palmerston North and we would go up and watch it each year.
"We [St Mary's] had never made it, and it had been a goal of everyone for so long. We really wanted to make it.
"We had had a pretty successful junior team and this was the first time we had got most of the junior team back together," said Mayo, who missed the basketball season last year because of illness.
"I could only play one sport last winter and chose netball."
As a result, Mayo committed herself to attending the basketball regionals this year, rather than netball equivalent, when the two tournaments clashed last month.
St Mary's managed to make the basketball nationals despite being relegated from the premier one Wellington competition half-way through the season.
"We had an up and down year," Mayo said. "We had an awful run in the first round of prems, with a lot of close losses. Then we had an atrocious game in the div 1 final, which we lost.
"But we got back up again at the regionals.
"We are a really close team, with five of us being in year 13."
Mayo, who is 1.82m tall, has spent much of her basketball career as a centre or power forward but is now being used more as a small forward.
She has regularly made Wellington representative sides and was a member of the national under-16 development side in 2009.
Mayo has also been a regular Wellington age-group representative at netball, has trialled for the New Zealand secondary schools side and made the national under- 17 tournament team for two successive years.
She leads the St Mary's basketball team and is co-captain of the netball team and has largely shelved her representative ambitions this year, to concentrate on her school work and school sport.
Mayo is also a high achiever in the classroom and plans to pursue a medical career, at either Auckland or Otago universities.
St Mary's are expected to struggle at the national basketball tournament, and lost their first two games this week, but should be competitive at the netball championships. The school finished 15th at the 2011 netball tournament, with a young squad, but has a stronger, more experienced team this year. Six of last year's squad are returning and Whitney Souness, who did not play school basketball last year, has further boosted the side.
St Mary's had five players selected for the tournament team at the lower North Island tournament, even in Mayo's absence.
"The talent of some of the girls is quite incredible," Mayo said. "We have got a bit more experience this year and I think we have more mental toughness as well."
Mayo has always played in the shooting circle in netball.
"She's predominantly a goal shoot," St Mary's coach Pelesa Semu said. "Her height makes a difference and she's a very capable shooter.
"As head girl, she brings a lot of leadership to the team and she's very much a team player.
"It's a challenge playing two sports in the same season and Emma has to be wary of burning herself out.
"But she wants to do everything she can in her last year [at school] and we totally respect that.
"She's a great kid, with a good head on her shoulders.
"She knows what she wants and always gives 100 per cent."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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