Serena Guthrie

Vitality Netball Superleague Round-up

The Vitality Netball Superleague season has come to an end and what a fantastic season it was. Given the last 18 months, the VNSL and the teams involved did a fantastic job of running a safe tournament full of twists and turns and the edge of the seat stuff. Being able to watch live sport felt like a real treat and having spectators in the Copper Box for the last few matches was fantastic to see. The players definitely rose to the occasion and seemed to enjoy having the boost.

Lightning finish on top

Two of the season’s strongest teams lined up in the final, Loughborough Lightning faced Team Bath and we were over the moon when Elite Netball Academy Ambassador Natalie Panagarry lifted the trophy for her club Loughborough Lightning. Loughborough had been in the final three times before but never won. We have seen how hard Natalie and her team work throughout the season so we were thrilled to see them get the reward they deserved. The Lightning team is very close to our hearts too as our founder Anna Carter led Lightning to a superleague final in 2018. Team Bath put in a good shift but in the end, it wasn’t quite enough, to see off the strong Loughborough unit.

In case you missed it, we spoke to Natalie ahead of Superleague finals weekend to find out how she deals with nerves on big occasions, you can read it below

We caught up with Natalie a few days after loughborough Lightning were crowned VNSL champions to find out how she was feeling:

“Wow how do I start – I’m still feeling extremely overwhelmed with the result and can’t believe we finally came away with the trophy. 

Loughborough Lightning team
The Loughborough Lightning team led by Natalie Panagarry. Image courtesy of Morgan Harlow.

It felt different to the finals I’d been involved in before, there was a excitement around the team but also a calmness. A sense that we’d done the hard work and the day was about enjoying playing together for one last time this season. We were calm, patient with the ball, it was a battle but once we had that lead we felt we had control. It’s felt like unfinished business. Lightning has made me the player I am and lots of people wrote us off at the start of the season and thought we wouldn’t even make the top four but we have proved them wrong.

I was just so proud of the performance we put out and the belief we showed through the game. That trophy has been 15 years in the making! For all the previous coaches, players, fans, current staff and players it meant so much, it was a huge moment for the club. 

I’m still on cloud 9 and picking up the VNSL trophy was an incredible feeling, especially to do it with that group of players, we have so many incredible stories within the club.  We’ve celebrated a lot, I’ve cried a lot and now it’s time for some proper rest and recovery. Bring on the 2022 season. Thank you for your support.”

Looking ahead to the 2022 VNSL

As the final whistle went on the VNSL 2021 season, we couldn’t help but think ahead to the 2022 season. This season has been one of the tightest Superleague seasons of recent times and as teams shift their plans, players move on and coaches adjust, it’s only going to get better in 2022. Leeds Rhinos impressed in their debut season and Manchester Thunder pushed right until the final weekend, both teams will be the ones to watch next season. They’ll come out feeling they have something to prove and will only get stronger during the break. One thing is for sure, netball in the UK is on the up. The strength, fitness and mental agility required to play this game we know and love is being recognised by those in the wider sporting world and the VNSL is a great advert for the sport.

We can’t wait for the day we see Elite Netball Academy athletes playing in the VNSL, a league that is going from strength to strength and producing some world-class netball players. At Elite Netball Academy we fully support our athlete’s dreams and will help do what we can to get athletes into the team they dream of playing for. Together we can explore your potential.

Here’s to the 2022 season!

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