Ashleigh Gar­ner joins an elite com­pany

Manukau Courier - - YOUR LOCAL NEWS - ALAN APTED

Ashleigh Gar­ner has be­come the youngest two time win­ner of Pa­pakura Net­ball Cen­tre’s player of the year.

The 17-year-old Ma­nurewa Rugby Gold goal at­tack was named the cen­tre’s best at prize­giv­ing last week where she was also ac­knowl­edged for play­ing in the Comets in the new BEKO League.

The win adds to her 2015 win and sets her up as one of only five play­ers who have won the cov­eted hon­our twice.

Only Italia Tipelu, 2005, 2007 and 2010 and Na­dia Love­day have won it three times.

Love­day, the for­mer Mys­tic who is Gar­ner’s team mate and men­tor, is the only player to win the award three times in a row be­gin­ning in 2011.

Gar­ner, who was un­avail­able to talk to the Manukau Courier, is cur­rently with her St Kentigern Col­lege team play­ing in the Up­per North Is­land sec­ondary school net­ball cham­pi­onships in Auck­land.

Ma­nurewa Rugby Gold coach Del­wyn San­ders knows Gar­ner bet­ter than most. She and Gar­ner’s mother Kathyrn are sis­ters and she has been coach­ing her niece since she was six.

‘‘She takes af­ter her mother Kathryn who played age group for Auck­land from 14 to 19 and played pre­miers in Auck­land, How­ick Paku­ranga and Pa­pakura up un­til last year.

‘‘Ashleigh has a pas­sion for the game, is ath­let­i­cally gifted and for one so young, has an un­canny abil­ity to read a game. She has been play­ing pre­miers since she was 14 and she is tough, both phys­i­cally and men­tally.’’

The 1.82m Gar­ner is short­ish for a goal at­tack but San­ders says it’s the ac­cu­racy of her shoot­ing that is her strength. Gar­ner also won the Merv Welling­ton Bowl for the player achiev­ing the high­est rep­re­sen­ta­tive hon­our. Ma­nurewa Rugby’s Te­gan Amani was named the cen­tre’s most promis­ing player. Aztec 1’s Vicki Mor­gan was named coach of the year.

Rep­re­sen­ta­tive play­ers of the year:

Year 8, Elise Kiors (Hui Hui Ko­tahi); Year 9, Raena Kahika-Smith (Mar­lins), un­der15, Te­gan Amani (Ma­nurewa Rugby), un­der-17, Sa­man­tha Fran­cis (Ma­nurewa Rugby).

Rep­re­sen­ta­tive hon­ours:

Ashleigh Gar­ner, Net­ball North­ern Zone/Comets (BEKO League); Tessa Scholten (Marvels BEKO League).

SIMON WATTS / WWW.PHOTOTEK.NZ

Ashleigh Gar­ner is Pa­pakura Net­ball Cen­tre’s player of the year.

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