Sport

A-grade no worries for Avenel youngster

By Meg Saultry

After taking out Avenel’s Under-17 best and fairest title last season, Sarah Nipperess has seen her star rise straight into the Swans’ A-grade midcourt this year.

The 18-year-old, who is the youngest member of the squad by more than three years, has established herself as the Swans' go-to centre.

But a jump in grades has not been without its challenges, with the youngster admitting it was initially a mental challenge going up against stronger opposition in a higher grade.

“A lot of self-doubt has come in,” Nipperess said.

“It’s stronger netball. There is a lot more body on body.

“I was a bit scared at the start, but I’ve been overcoming that.

“And I’ve come leaps and bounds with where I was.”

She credits the supportive nature of the club, including off-court personnel, for helping her settle into her new role.

And it’s Nipperess’ speed and long passes down the court that have proven to be major benefits for a team on the rebuild, while increasing her aerobic tank to cover most of the court hasn’t seemed to bother Nipperess in the slightest.

“I love the fitness side to it,” she said with a laugh.

And recovery seems to be another crucial part to her process, with light cardio or a pool session first on her to-do list on a Sunday morning.

With another season at Avenel likely on the cards for Nipperess, a goal to eventually join the army and play for the ADF netball team could eventually take the teen away from her childhood club. 

But it's her current apprenticeship with the Swans where her focus firmly lies at the moment.

The Swans are sitting in 10th with a record of 5-9 this season, with two matches remaining. 

“We’ve played some strong netball,” Nipperess said.

“It’s always a contested game, and we’ll keep fighting and fighting and hopefully have a better last part of the season.”

Though in a what could have been a premature end to Nipperess’ season, the playmaker dislocated her thumb in Avenel’s round 15 loss against Violet Town.

But while she says it is still tender and sore, fortunately there was no break or fracture.

And even more fortunately, Nipperess won’t miss any games, and is set to line up against Dookie United and Violet Town in the next fortnight.

“It will take a lot more than a thumb to stop me from playing,” she said.