Sun | Aug 25, 2019

Paul Wright | Still behind the Sunshine Girls

Published:Tuesday | July 16, 2019 | 12:18 AM
South Africa’s Phumza Maweni (third left) shoots while Jamaica goal defence Vangelee Williams (left) looks on during their Vitality Netball World Cup game at the M&S Bank Arena in Liverpool, England, on Sunday. Williams’ teammate Shamera Sterling (third right) jumps to block the shot.

Every sports fan has a favourite, a person or a team for whom he or she cheers while watching a game. This summer of sport has caused fans to cheer, either silently or very vocally, for their favourites. This past weekend started very badly for me.

In the final of the Wimbledon Women’s Singles Championship, Serena Williams was simply outplayed by Romanian Simona Halep, who continued her march through the competition, brushing aside media sensation Cori ‘Coco’ Gauff, to play what can easily be described as the match of her life against my favourite and multiple Grand Slam Champion, Williams.

The new Wimbledon Champion played the type of tennis that should be the subject of ‘how-to-play-finals’ for young wannabes. Halep moved across the court like a panther on the prowl, making shots that had my champion shaking her head in what could be interpreted as disbelief. Hopefully, the new Wimbledon Champion will, through her support staff, family, and friends, stay away from the apparent meltdown of the last person to beat Serena in a Championship match. The good news: Serena was her usual classy self in defeat, and as she juggles motherhood and world-class tennis, she will be back.

RUN OUT OF THE AGES

Then came the finals of the ICC World Cup. England versus last competition’s finalist, New Zealand. Again, my favourite lost. In what could be described as the run-out of the ages, New Zealand lost the Championship after a tie at the end of 50 overs and a tie at the end of the Super Over. The rules of the competition, agreed to by all the participants, gave the title to England, by what some have described as a victory by 500th of a second, the time lapse for the run-out in the crucial Super Over. Well done, England! Another favourite of mine losing.

Then again at Wimbledon, this time in the Men’s Singles final, after four hours and 55 minutes, the championship is decided in a tie-break. Roger Federer lost. One could not help wondering if I could have one deggeh-deggeh victory at the weekend.

So, on to netball. Jamaica against the up-and-coming team of the tournament, South Africa. In the pre-match build-up, head coach Marvette Anderson correctly fingered the major flaw of our Sunshine Girls as they defeated Fiji and Trinidad and Tobago on the way to the final group match against the SPAR Proteas. As our coach pointed out, turnovers continue to be our major flaw. A change of personnel mid-match helped, but it proved not to be enough. We lost 55-52 to South Africa, then again yesterday to our nemesis England, 56-48, in what was essentially a must-win match.

In the past month, teams have shown that defeat during the tournament means little once the reason for defeat is recognised and corrected. The main fault of our netballers through the ages has been our inability to recognise errors during play and make corrections. In this tournament, win or lose, our netball backroom staff have shown that they recognise flaws and can make the necessary mid-match corrections to the team’s benefit. Our netball is in safe hands. Again, go Girls! Win or lose, we are with you.