TOUGH YEAR ENDS ON A HIGH FOR MARIA TATAIA
Shooter Maria Tutaia is looking forward to putting a tough netball year behind her – albeit one that finished with the high of a world title.
Tutaia’s ability to land bombs from deep was a key element of New Zealand’s successful defence of their Fast5 world series crown in Auckland at the weekend.
She was head and shoulders above any other player at the three-day tournament for three-point “super shot” goals, landing 25 of them in her seven games.
Six came in the 56-27 victory over Australia in the final, including five in the Fast5 Ferns’ double-point power-play third quarter, which they won 34-7 to blow a tight contest wide open.
Tutaia says letting the ball go from distance is something she relishes.
“I’ve always loved the long bomb and this is the type of game I thrive on,” she said.
“I’m very lucky I have that mindset.”
In only one match – the semi-final against South Africa – did she fail to nail an attempt from long-range.
“I was telling the team in the debrief that I was saving it for the final, so thank God that came about,” she said.
The tournament had a large fun element to it, such as all six teams bringing a dance routine on court before their last match.
Tutaia said it was important to balance that with the significance of representing one’s country, especially after the Silver Ferns’ 4-1 Test series loss to the Australian Diamonds.
“Most of us had had a pretty tough year with the Constellation Cup,” she said.
“We definitely wanted to finish on a high.”
Earlier in 2013, Tutaia had also tasted disappointment as skipper of the Northern Mystics, who finished last in the trans-Tasman netball league.
Asked to summarise the year, she said: “I’m so glad I can close that chapter and start refreshed for 2014.”