Plenty of joyful tears have been shed over Ellen Halpenny's selection in the Silver Ferns squad for the Commonwealth Games.
Having been a New Zealand Accelerant Squad member, the Waikato-Bay of Plenty Magic shooter was yesterday named in the national side for the first time, and is the sole new cap in the 12 for Glasgow.
The 24-year-old got the call from coach Waimarama Taumaunu on Monday night when travelling home with team-mates and flatmates after the Magic returned from Sydney.
"I was in the car with Bessie [Manu], Coco [Courtney Tairi] and Jo [Harten], and Wai gave us the phone call and let me know then," Halpenny said.
"And it made the drive a lot easier getting home because traffic was a mess, you could say."
Halpenny, who grew up in Christchurch and played for the Tactix from 2008-12 before shifting to the Magic, admitted she didn't really remember much of what Taumaunu said.
"It was quite a blur. I didn't really say much back because I was still in shock.
"As soon as I hung up the phone I burst into tears and then so did Jo and Courtney and Bessie, they had a wee tear in their eye. It was kind of cute, but it was a real cool moment to share with them, and I'll remember that forever.
"I rung my parents and my brother and they also shed a wee tear and were very proud."
Halpenny has this year sunk 293 goals at 81.8 per cent and has steadily improved in her time with the Magic.
She credited a well-performing team and being happy on and off the court for her development, while acknowledging last week's retirement of Irene van Dyk had given her the shot.
"I still think I [van Dyk] is an amazing player and I still think she could be there if she decided to. But obviously she hasn't decided to. Of course it did leave a big door wide open, and I guess everyone had the chance to take the opportunity that was there."
Halpenny now has the chance to debut on her birthday, with the Ferns' first match of the Games against Malawi on July 25.
But she admitted news of her selection was still sinking in and it wouldn't be hard to put all her focus on the remainder of the Magic's trans-Tasman league campaign.
"I guess it'll be quite easy. I suppose it's been there all season [the thought of selection]. And I think Magic have done a really good job of separating the two."
Taumaunu said Halpenny's ability to play both shooting positions got her noticed but it was her accuracy which saw her selected ahead of the likes of Bailey Mes.
The other notable selections were Liana Leota and Anna Harrison.
England-based Leota is back after three years in the international wilderness and just 11 weeks after giving birth to her third child.
The midcourt was the most competitive area of the squad, with Millie Lees and Grace Rasmussen missing out.
"There were some tough decisions, but that's a good place to be," Taumaunu said.
"As with any netball team there's always the chance of injury and people might withdraw, so they are well in the picture."
Harrison missed last season due to pregnancy and her ability to play from goal keep to wing defence was worth its weight in gold, Taumaunu said.
Silver Ferns: Casey Kopua (captain), Laura Langman (vice-captain), Jodi Brown, Leana de Bruin, Shannon Francois, Katrina Grant, Ellen Halpenny, Anna Harrison, Joline Henry, Cathrine Latu, Liana Leota and Maria Tutaia.
- Waikato Times