Barrowford’s Natalie Haythornthwaite was last week disappointed not to make the England Netball long squad for the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow next month.
The 21-year-old former England Under 21 captain was not named in the 18-strong pool, which will be whittled down to the final 12 at the start of July after training camps.
But the Yorkshire Jets wing attack/goal attack - recently named as One2Watch in the ZEO Netball Superleague by Sky Sports expert Tamsin Greenway - insists she has had a positive year regardless: “We’ve been training all year with the INTCs (Intensive Netball Training Centre), but there’s been a lot of competition, especially at centre court, going up against Sasha Corbin, who’s world class, and for my age, I think I’ve had a great year training with the seniors.
“I’d love to have gone, but it’s been a good development year for me.
“Having my last year at Uni alongside training, it’s been tough, but training with the England girls has been really good and I’ve enjoyed it.
“I’ve been playing for England at all levels for seven years now, but I just have to try and keep improving.”
Natalie was part of the senior squad which earned a Test series win against Australia 18 months ago, and shone in the World Youth Netball Championships last year.
And she hopes to kick on after this setback: “I’ve come out of the Under 21s and I’m at the development stage with the senior squad, so I’m training with them, getting as much experience as I can.
“We’ll go back to trials for the INTCs after Glasgow, and then it’s the world championships the following year, so that’s the goal.
“I hope I get my opportunity.
“When you get your first taste with the senior squad, you want more.”
Natalie has recently finished her degree in linguistics and phonetics at Leeds, where she has also played for Yorkshire Jets in the Netball Superleague - which was recently won by Manchester Thunder in a remarkable final against Surrey Storm.
And she looked back on her domestic season: “We finished sixth, which was really disappointing. We had some games which we should have won, where we didn’t perform to our best, but we had a lot of new players who were really good for us so that was positive. We didn’t make the top four unfortunately, but hopefully next year.”