It’s full steam ahead for the World Youth Netball Championships for Barrowford’s Natalie Haythornthwaite and England Under 21s.
At the weekend, Natalie helped England stepped up their preparations for August’s championships in Glasgow, finishing runners-up at the Netball Europe Open in Aberdeen.
And on Tuesday she was named in the squad for the Worlds, where England open their campaign on Friday, August 23rd with a against the Republic of Ireland, before facing Singapore, Papua New Guinea and Barbados over the following four days.
As preparation continues for the Championships, the U21 squad will be flying out to the Caribbean in mid-July where they will face Jamaica, Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago.
The weekend’s competition gave the Under 21s invaluable court time in a tournament open to senior players.
The opening match on Friday evening saw England take on Wales in a classic encounter, finally going down 37-33 to the eventual winners.
However, England bounced back with a convincing 49-20 win over the host nation on Saturday.
That made the final game against Northern Ireland a straight shoot out for second spot in the table, which the girls in the famous red dress won 47-39.
Natalie is now focussed on a big summer ahead: “We’re lucky enough to be going out to the Caribbean next month, but it’s all about August and the Worlds.
“We wanted to win the Euros at the weekend, but it was a great experience against senior players, and now we’re focussing on Glasgow.
“It was fantastic to be named in the squad - it’s something we’ve been working towards for four years, and I can’t believe it’s almost here.
“We’ll be looking to win our pool, and then we would probably face South Africa in the quarter-finals, and anything can happen after that.”
It’s a busy time for the Leeds University student, but she smiled: “My exams are finished for the year and I’ve handed in my last assignment, so I can focus on training hard now, with two camps in Bath.”