With the 2011 National Water Polo League now under way it’s time to take a look at how both of the Sydney Uni Men’s and Women’s squads are shaping up.
Despite suffering defeats at the hands of the league’s top teams, both squads are confident of securing a finals spot in this year’s competition.
After a 2010 season in which the men’s team made the finals, only to be eliminated in the first finals round, 2011 appears to be a year in which the team has not only become a year older, but also a year wiser.
The men’s squad is chock full of state and national representatives, and contains eight Elite Athlete Scholarship members.
It also contains a wealth of talented juniors, including Tom Kears, Schott Nicholson, Lachlan Hollis and Clayton Whittaker.
Whittaker, in particular, appears to be in some of the best form of his young career.
Supporting these juniors will be the ‘mainstays’ of the squad – Alastair Visch and Trent Franklin.
The knowledge and expertise of Tomas Whalan, who has also been introduced back into the men’s squad after a long playing stint in Spain, will be crucial in the team’s assault on a spot in the finals.
Head Coach Damian Fanning, known as ‘Nipper,’ has put the boys through a tough pre-season and he will now be requesting that they transfer all their hard work into great performances in the pool.
Without doubt the two teams who will offer most resistance to the Sydney Uni will be last year’s top two teams, Freemantle and Victoria – who are consistently strong.
The women’s team will be looking to take a step forward from last season by making the 2011 finals series after narrowly missing out last year.
They have good reason to be confident after the addition of goalkeeping ace Elysha O’Neil to a young, energetic and enthusiastic outfit.
The squad possesses three new Elite Athlete Scholarship holders – Emily Scott, Hannah Buckling and Georgia Clarke.
All three players will be aiming to gain selection into the Australian junior team to compete at this year’s U20’s World Junior Championships.
With David Hudson now in charge as Head Coach, and the squad containing national squad members Keesja Gofers and Alecia Brightwell, as well as NSW Scholarship holder Joanne Whitehorn, the signs look good for a finals appearance for the women’s team.