South Africa will maximise their home ground advantage when they take on England and Trinidad and Tobago in a tri-nations netball series in front of a capacity crowd at the NMMU Indoor Sports Centre in Port Elizabeth from Tuesday (October 22).
SPAR Proteas captain Maryka Holtzhausen said her side were determined to prove themselves in the four-day contest after losing 3-0 to England in a test series on British soil last month.
“The tri-nations is definitely an opportunity, I wouldn’t say for payback, but for improvement,” said Holtzhausen.
“We knew what we had to work on after we came back from England and the tri-nations gives us the perfect platform to measure our improvements.
“The scene is surely set for a hotly contested competition.”
Although England, currently third in the world rankings, are the favourites on paper, Holtzhausen says being the underdogs could work in the sixth-placed home side’s favour.
“They’re a very physical team, with accurate shooters and pace throughout the court, which we are prepared for.
“We’ve worked hard on our attack and changed a few things, but our big strength is definitely our defence.”
SPAR-Madibaz stalwart defender and SA’s most-capped player Zanele Mdodana makes a welcome return to the national squad after struggling with injuries recently.
“Zanele had a great training camp last week – she is 100 per cent and really hungry to play excellent netball like we know she can. We are very privileged to have her back for the tri-nations.”
Holtzhausen said Trinidad and Tobago, who occupy ninth spot in the world rankings, would be the dark horse of the series.
“We never underestimate any team. We will be going into the Trinidad and Tobago match with the same mindset as any other test.”
SPAR Eastern Cape marketing manager Abri Swart said it was a coup for Port Elizabeth to host the national team in their first home test series in more than a year.
“SPAR is a long-standing sponsor of the Proteas team and we are delighted that local fans will get to see top-class international netball right here in PE.”
The series starts on Tuesday with South Africa versus Trinidad and Tobago, while the hosts take on England on Wednesday. On Thursday, the visiting teams play each other, with the two log leaders going on to compete in Friday’s final.
All matches start at 5.30pm and the games will be televised on DStv.
Although tickets are virtually sold out, organisers say seats are still available for the Diamond Challenge series against Zambia and Zimbabwe, which follows from October 27-30 at the same venue.