SOUTH Warrnambool teenager Hannah Oates wants to play A grade netball with the Roosters.
She hopes representing Hampden White in the Western Region State League will be the pathway that will take her to the top.
Oates, 19, will be one of more than 100 junior and senior netballers who will return to the court for the first round of the Netball Victoria competition tonight.
Hampden White opens its account against Hampden Green at 8pm, with the match featuring some of the elite talents in south-west Victoria.
Oates doesn’t consider herself as a member of that group — she has played A1 netball since emerging from juniors.
But she wants to put her best foot forward in the WRSL to get a head start for South Warrnambool selection trials.
“I played state league when I was in under 17s and haven’t played since,” she said.
“I was interested in playing again. I know the competition is always difficult and it’s a great pre-season.
“I’m hoping to get my fitness up to where it was before summer and Christmas.
“It’s the perfect way to get it up there and see where I am at with netball,” she said.
“I’m hoping to play seniors this year. If I play state league it’ll give me the chance to do that.”
Committing to the WRSL has already come with one bonus for Oates.
One of her teammates is Leah Kermeen, the South Warrnambool coach who will have a say whether she realises her A grade ambitions.
Kermeen will miss the opening two rounds of the Thursday night competition, but Oates said she was looking forward to playing with her mentor.
“I played with her a couple of years ago in a few games and she’s awesome to play with.She gives so much direction on the court,” she said.
“She’s a great coach, a great playing coach. I’m really looking forward to playing with her in state league.”
Oates said she wanted to put on the wing defence bib for the WRSL, a position which would allow her to settle against better-credentialed rivals.
She also wants to lock down the role at Friendly Societies’ Park, filling a void left by Josie Ellerton who has left the Roosters for Panmure.
“If I keep my fitness regime up and don’t slack off I should be all right,” she said.
In other WRSL round one matches, Port Fairy takes on reigning premier Camperdown Night and Cobden Night meets Colac and District. Both games are at 8pm.
Warrnambool and District faces Timboon Night in the late match at 9.15pm.
In the 17 and under grade at 6.45pm, Camperdown Night meets Hampden Green, Terang Night takes on Warrnambool and District and Hampden Red faces Warrnambool City.
Colac and District has the bye.