The curtain has only just closed on the 2013 ANZ Championship but Nelson’s Zoe Walker has already pledged her future to the EasiYo Tactix – well, informally anyway.
The former Waimea College student was a regular in the Canterbury side during her inaugural season but is now off contract. Despite this, Zoe hopes her first year efforts were enough to cement a spot in the squad long term. “I really loved being in the team this year so Canterbury is somewhere I definitely want to stick around,” she says. “There were a lot of players in the team that were in their first year so if we keep the bulk of us together then it could be something exciting in the future.”
Thrown in the deep end on debut, Zoe was marking Silver Fern sharpshooter Irene Van Dyk at the Trafalgar Centre. While the Tactix received a heavy defeat in that game, Zoe put in a credible shift, highlighted by an impressive block on the 211 cap international. With two games played in Nelson this season, you would assume Zoe would have revelled with the hometown crowd cheering her name, but the 19 year old admits it probably made her even more nervous. “I don’t know if I’d say it made it easier, I was petrified but it was cool to have the first game in Nelson.”
After playing 13 games, including ten starts, Zoe was clearly pleased with the faith shown in her by coach Leigh Gibbs, even though she was the youngest member of the squad. “I thought I’d just get a quarter here, a quarter there but to get the amount of court time I did was quite surprising. I was very lucky.”
And as for the Tactix record of two wins and 11 losses, Zoe admits it was a tough season for the team. “Obviously the disappointment is something that you don’t like to get used to. Even though there were so many challenging times we stuck together as a group really well, supported each other and I think that’s what kept us going. It was definitely challenging, frustrating but you just have to learn from it.”
But overall, looking back to where she was last year, struggling to contain the tall timber in an under-21 international against Australia, Zoe believes she has come a long way. “The amount I’ve learnt this year I’m going to benefit from hugely. I went down to watch the Waimea College girls last week and it’s kind of weird thinking that this was me just a couple of years ago. It feels like a lifetime ago that I was playing for school but this has just happened so fast and you don’t really get time to look back at it.”
Zoe will now look towards the World Under-21 Netball Championship in Scotland in August. With a few niggling injuries, she has decided to pull out of a national under-23 competition to focus solely on getting to Glasgow.