WITH the Australian netball awards season quickly approaching we cast an eye over a host of potential players that could win the prestigious awards ranging from international level to the Australian Netball League (ANL). This article is purely based on opinion and how we perceive each player’s season to have panned out.
Liz Ellis Diamond: Gretel Tippett (Queensland Firebirds)
It is hard to think of another player that has had as great an impact as Gretel Tippett has in the past year, with the talented goal attack taking her game to a whole new level in 2019. The typically explosive shooter owned the court both at international and domestic level, a clear testament to her sheer power, netball nous and dominance no matter her opponent. She broke records, becoming the first Australian to shoot 100 consecutive goals and putting an end to any doubters who questioned her accuracy, along with upping the volume of shots she attempted. Tippett was simply unstoppable when given the time and space and showed she can apply defensive pressure thanks to her three-foot marking and read of the play.
Wing attack and 2018 Liz Ellis Diamond winner Liz Watson also put her best foot forward for the coveted award, thanks to another year full of consistency, clever plays and dynamic movement proving to be a key cog through the midcourt. Her endurance was unquestionable running hard and creating attacking forays to surge her side ahead, but her season failed to have the same individual impact as Tippett.
Australian International Player of the Year: Gretel Tippett (Queensland Firebirds)
With Tippett expected to take out the Liz Ellis Diamond award expect the Firebirds shooter to make it two from two and take home the International Player of the Year award, credit to a stellar season in the green and gold. She was often the point of difference in tight matches, using her physicality and commanding height to full advantage to get under the skin of opponents and capitalise on her opportunities. Tippett did not disappoint in the Constellation Cup, only missing three goals from her 85 attempts at an impressive 96 per cent, highlighting her accuracy to post and class while her performance at the World Cup was unrivalled by any other Diamond. She showcased her versatility moving into goal shooter to become a holding goaler and key target under the post.
Despite missing a couple of games with injury, goal keeper Courtney Bruce was a dominant threat in the defensive goal circle thanks to her immense pressure and ball tracking ability making her a potential winner. Caitlin Thwaites is another player up there for many, and although she did not get a wealth of court time the retiring goal shooter served as a smokey with the fan favourite making an impact each time she took the court with her long range shooting and versatile game style.
Suncorp Super Netball Player of the Year: Karla Pretorius (Sunshine Coast Lightning)
After another big year of Suncorp Super Netball it is hard to narrow down a winner but it is equally as hard to go past Karla Pretorius with the talented goal defence reminding everyone why she is so dominant and exciting to watch. She was a key reason behind the Lightning’s success spurring them into another grand final tilt, albeit falling short. Pretorius lights the court up with her go-go gadget arms, closing speed and ability to pick pocket players making her Draft Central’s number one choice.
Also up there is fellow international and Lightning returnee, Laura Langman. On return, Langman proved to be a key cog through the midcourt and had some impressive games where she well and truly won games off her own back. In her first season of SSN Jamaican recruit Shamera Sterling could also give Pretorius a run for her money with the Adelaide Thunderbirds goal keeper highlighting her class to pick off passes with her lanky arms and impressive leap. Hot on her tail is the likes of Ash Brazill who lifted another gear in 2019 for the Magpies using her electric pace, aerial ability and defensive pressure to remain a threat across the court. Meanwhile NSW Swifts goal shooter Sam Wallace also put her hand up as a potential winner thanks to her cool, calm and collected nature under the post paired with her aerial ability, something which helped the NSW Swifts to their inaugural Super Netball premiership.
Joyce Brown Coach of the Year: Briony Akle (NSW Swifts)
It is no mean feat coaching your side to victory after failing to make the top four the year before, and NSW Swifts coach, Briony Akle well and truly showed it can be done. Akle proved that the mix between international star power and belief in youth was key to success with the likes of ANL players Elle Bennetts, Sophie Halpin and Tayla Fraser all playing a crucial role in their premiership. Despite being hit with a host of injuries with Helen Housby sidelined after World Cup, Maddy Proud relegated to the bench after tearing her ACL and Kate Eddy out with a season ending ankle injury the talented coach pulled it all together only in her second year as head coach.
Grand final opposition coach Noeline Taurua also posed a good candidate taking her side to their third consecutive grand final while the ever-reliable Simone McKinnis could have also been selected but in the end it was hard to deny Akle given her successful 2019 campaign.
Suncorp Super Netball Young Star: Cara Koenen (Sunshine Coast Lightning)
It was a break out season for the 24-year old shooter who well and truly announced herself on the domestic stage, mixing it with some of the world’s best and most talented defenders. Koenen emerged midway through the season as a key player for the Lightning with her height, strong holds and deceptively silky movement a key feature of her game making her a front runner for this year’s Young Star award.
Koenen was no easy pick with the likes of Queensland defensive duo Kim Jenner and Tara Hinchliffe also in contention for the Young Star award given their impressive season, but both suffered injuries forcing them to the sidelines for weeks at a time. Another potential was Sophie Garbin who held her own in her non-preferred position of goal attack in the absence of teammate Housby, using her accuracy to post and strong movement to pose a threat. But none seemed to have the same impact as Koenen who at times was a barometer for the Sunshine Coast with her accuracy, volume and general netball nous.