Jets geared up for take-off

The time has come for Serena Kersten and Team Jets to take on the play-offs. They travel to the English Institute of Sport in Sheffield today. Picture: DAVID FERGUSON. (37882470)

THE time has come for Team Jets. This weekend they go to Sheffield at the English Institute of Sport for the chance to secure promotion through the South-West Regional League 1 play-offs.

After a wonderfully successful league campaign that saw them finish 10 points clear at the top of league, Serena Kersten and her squad now face a repeat of the challenge that thwarted their promotion dreams last season.

Team Jets could hardly ask to be in better form coming in. They won 11 of their last 12 league matches, including nine wins on the spin and scoring 60 points on seven occasions.

“It’s great to finally be at crunch time after a long season,” she said.

“The whole campaign I’ve been preaching about being process driven and taking each game as it comes.

“All that was gearing up to prepare us as best as possible for this exact occasion.”

The Islanders will be competing in one of three groups, each consisting of four teams. Team Jets will be competing against D Side, Hyde Park and Premier Romans. The top two from each group will then play a final, from which the winner of each of the three finals will be awarded promotion.

“It’s a really exciting time,” Kersten continued.

“Although we made it to the final last year and didn’t go on, we’re not letting that hold us back.

“Personally, I feel the whole squad is in a much better space this time around. We have a more well-rounded group and our bench is as strong as our starting seven.

“I know I can make changes if necessary and the players coming on have the ability to change games positively for us.

“That hasn’t always been the case, but the girls have worked so hard as a squad this year to make us better as a collective.”

As a former England captain, Kersten knows all about competing in high-pressure games. None more so than the Commonwealth Games and, of course, the World Cup.

Kersten believes her experience of competing on the big stage is useful, although different now as a coach.

“I’m very lucky to have competed at the events that I did and I bring that abundance of experience with me to this group, but it is different as a coach.

“As a player I was able to run out on court and do something about the game physically. Now I have to sit back and trust that I have communicated my message effectively and let the girls forge their own path.

“I think it’s going to be a really tough weekend. The pool this year I think is stronger than last year, but we are better also.

“I’m really excited. The girls have been amazing this season and I genuinely think we can go all the way.”

Despite all of the on-court success, reaching this stage hasn’t been easy in recent times for Jersey Netball. After the bad news of main sponsors Santander withdrawing their funding, they have also had to contend of late with having no home, Les Ormes being out of action.

Kersten explained how her she and her coaching team have had to try and find alternative training options, being limited to just one hour a week at varying facilities.

The Jets head coach concluded: “We have appealed to the government, but we haven’t had any assistance at this time.

“I think it’s a real shame. The girls are representing the Island in such a positive way and are not being looked after appropriately.

“We have a chance of doing something really special this weekend and I hope it’s respected by those in charge, who have the capability of making a change.

“For us not to be able to have adequate training capabilities in the build-up to a play-off weekend has been frustrating. We have tried, but have just had to get on with it.

“We do feel prepared, and the girls know what the job at hand means to so many people. That’s our main focus and hopefully we can achieve something really special this weekend.”

Team Jets will travel to Sheffield today and compete in two group games on Saturday, the third on Sunday morning. If reached, the final will be played on Sunday afternoon, all livestreamed through England Netball social media channels.

Team Jets play off squad:

Rosie Tonner (cc), Jacy Brown (cc), Lynsey Pitman, Leah Griffin, Emily Le Gros, Antonia Chaytor, Taylor-Mai Dickson, Maddison Fitzgerald-Wilkins, Jodie Blampied, Nicole Goddard, Layla Dos Santos, Lauren Devine, Becca Forrest, Kat Le Riche

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