Teen pair net a chance at the big league
Bright futures ... Georgia Clayden, left, and Leigh Kalsbeek. Photo: Richard Briggs
Competing against players up to four years older will be invaluable for the development of two of the ACT's brightest young stars.
Leigh Kalsbeek and Georgia Clayden are still only 17 but have been an integral part of the ACT under-21 national championships campaign in Canberra this week.
They will both play for the ACT under-19s at next month's nationals.
ACT under-21 coach Melinda Clarke said playing against older players would be invaluable in their long-term development.
Both have already had a taste of the Australian squad by training with the under-17 squad.
''It will give them great experience leading into 19s [nationals] especially, but also just the exposure at this level,'' Clarke said.
''For them to be playing against the best players in the country and Australian under-21 representatives is just going to do them the world of good for their development.
''They've essentially had the 21s nationals before they've had the opportunity to play 19s, so it's been a big step up for them and both of them have coped really well.''
A strong showing at the under-19 nationals next month could see them follow in the footsteps of Keely Rodrigo - the first Canberran to be selected in an Australian netball squad.
The ACT faces an uphill battle to make the national finals after a 64-45 loss to Western Australia on Thursday. It needs to beat highly rated South Australia in the final game on Friday and rely on other results to go its way to make the top four.
Meanwhile, a winless Northern Territory has been forced to withdraw from the titles after injury left it with just seven fit players.
It decided in the interests of player welfare it was best to withdraw from the competition rather than continue without any fit substitutes on the bench.
FRIDAY: Australian under-21 National Championships, at Lyneham: SA v ACT at 10am; NSW v QLD at 11.30am.