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Linda Pearce

Linda Pearce is the Chief Tennis Writer and general sports reporter for The Age. She writes about a range of sports, including football, netball, and gymnastics. Linda has twice been named Australian tennis writer of the year.

Cherished moments: Linda Pearce interviewing Roger Federer.

Jumping the net at the end of the match

After close to 50 tennis grand slams and a handful of Davis Cup deciders, a dozen AFL grand finals, Olympic and Commonwealth Games both home and away, Boxing Day cricket and a score of world championships, including various one-goal netball thrillers, this, for me, is the finish line.

Sunshine Coast Lightning coach Noeline Taurua and her players celebrate after winning the Super Netball major semi-final ...

Lightning aiming to create Super Netball grand final storm for Giants

Q: When is a home grand final not played at home? A: When you are the Sunshine Coast Lightning, and yours is what is quaintly described as a "boutique" 2200-seat stadium at Sippy Downs. Thus, for the purposes of the inaugural Super Netball decider, "home" for the Lightning is a 90-kilometre drive south down the M1.

Kate Moloney of the Vixens and Geva Mentor of the Lightning are all smiles before their semi-final.

Giant steps too great for Vixens

Geva Mentor left Melbourne for the Sunshine Coast and a longer contract once the personal consequences of the Vixens' youth-focused intentions became clear. On Saturday night, the veteran defender nominated by rival coach Julie Fitzgerald as "the form player of the competition" will lead the Lightning into the inaugural Super Netball grand final against the rampaging Giants in Brisbane.

Watson has had an impressive season.

Young Vixen standing tall

Chloe Watson continues to grow into her current role as the Melbourne Vixens' long-limbed wing defence.

Liz Watson is rated by Liz Ellis as the best wing attack in the comp this season.

The secrets of the Vixens' and Watson's success

The first of just two losses this season for the Melbourne Vixens on their way to the minor premiership became a critical signpost in the pursuit of the Super Netball championship now within sight. It was round two, away, against the Sunshine Coast Lightning, and a six-goal defeat that vice-captain Liz Watson regards as the catalyst for much of what has followed.