Rangi Ruru Girls' School year 13 student Sophia Fenwick views her selection in the New Zealand secondary schools' netball team as the stepping stone to a double ambition – making the Silver Ferns and turning her Australian best friend into a Kiwi supporter.
The 17-year-old shooter leaves for Adelaide next month where New Zealand will be trying to defend the international schoolgirls' challenge title Fenwick helped them win in Auckland last year.
After losing to Australia in the round-robin, the Kiwis made an average start in the final and were trailing at halftime. After Fenwick was subbed on, the Kiwis rallied to clinch the title.
"It was exciting, nerve-wracking stuff," she recalls. "When I first saw them play, they seemed so much faster than us."
Fenwick says beating Australia is one of her most powerful motivational tools.
"I've just been to a camp run by Lois Muir and she was saying how the Australians have got the edge on us because they are faster, fitter, more aggressive and more nuggety than us.
"I reckon I can give them a run for their money."
As a bonus, best friend Rosie Campbell, who has moved to Christchurch from Australia, has promised to switch allegiance if Fenwick can achieve her ultimate goal – the Silver Ferns.
Selection for the national schools' side and an upcoming trial for the New Zealand under 21s show she is heading in the right direction. She would also like to play for the Tactix in the ANZ championship.
Rangi Ruru coach Brenda Rowberry shot Fenwick into her A team when she was still in year nine.
"She's got incredible natural assets for netball," Rowberry says. "She's got a brilliant physique, amazing strength and co-ordination, leadership qualities and she combines a competitive nature with a lighter, fun side."
At 181cm Fenwick has also got the height to be effective at both ends of the court.
"When she arrived she'd been playing centre, and I told her that was ridiculous and she needed to be in the circle and give the short girls a chance at centre. She was a bit reluctant but she has shown she can play all the positions on the court."
Fenwick has also excelled at athletics, with third placings in the triple jump and javelin at national age-group level, and is an accomplished volleyballer.
She will captain Rangi Ruru when they begin their club netball campaign in the premier grade tomorrow night and also in the Supernet series for the top high schools. Rangi Ruru has won the title for the last two years.
The international challenge series, from May 24-27, also features teams from Malaysia and the Pacific Rim.
- The Press
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