THE 2018 NSW State Netball Championships were held two weeks ago, and while Newcastle and Charlestown were pipped at the post by the eventual winners Manly Warringah, the Hunter still boasted three dark blue winners patches at tournament-end.

Newcastle’s Tianna Cummings, alongside Karlee and Kellyann Grayson, played in Manly’s undefeated squad as they charged to a 16-0 record and the top spot.

Playing through poor conditions on the opening two days of the Gosford-hosted tournament, the Manly squad downed all opposition, including dealing defending champions Newcastle a key blow just two games into the competition with a 19-13 win.

Cummings revealed the representative success was just the spark she needed to refocus on her ongoing campaign in the Greater Open Championship with Souths Lions.

“I’ve struggled over the past few seasons with some injuries that have left me on the bench, and because of that I’ve come into this year with a lot of up and down performances,” Cummings said.

“Playing the State Championships weekend and being able to put together three straight days of consistent play sparked the motivation in me again, I proved to myself that I can get back to my best and keep playing at that high standard.

“It was a real spark and I’m glad that I got the chance to play all three days. It’s something I want to bring back for Souths as we keep going.”

Despite a portion of her focus remaining in Newcastle with the Souths season, Cummings said she was grateful that she could cap 2018 with the Championship victory after those few years struggling on the sidelines.

“You always remember various states, often because it’s either really nice weather or there’s really bad storms like the one in Gosford, but this one is even better,” the Manly defender said.

“It felt really good to show exactly how well we could play, especially considering we don’t really have much training together before state. There were a lot of tough games to win and after we reached each of those matches and came out the other side it was such a good feeling.”

Cummings, who began plying her netball trade in Raymond Terrace, also returned to her match-up against Newcastle early on in the competition, and said the six-goal victory proved “how strong [Manly] would be”.

She also commented on the added factor that came with playing against many of her Souths teammates, including club captain Narelle Eather, and especially her club goal attack Katelyn Stansfield.

“There was a lot of motivation to play to the highest level I could get,” Cummings said. “I was up against Katelyn for a lot of the match so I had to regularly remind myself I was there to win instead of to be nice.”

“I am so used to looking for passes to Narelle, and being friendly with Katelyn, and then I had to keep pushing myself to play the best I can instead of being friendly and having a chat.”

“It didn’t help on the day that Katelyn doesn’t miss, but it really instilled confidence in my club in Newcastle knowing they’re down the other end most weekends,” she added.

Cummings returned to the Newcastle top grade with a 60-22 win over the Lions’ sister team, Souths Pride, and retained second place in the standings. Next weekend the Lions will face West Leagues Balance 2.

Karlee and Kellyann Grayson currently play in the Maitland netball A-grade competition, for George Tavern. The club is currently second on 21 points after a 4-1 start to the season. Only Hills Solicitors (6-0) are above them in the standings.

First published as: State queens from the Hunter