Karina “Coops” Cooper previews Women’s Tour 1
World class performances are the ticket for the teams wanting to take home the crown at this weekend’s first Tour playing out in Nottingham.
The Cambridge and Oxford combination team Punt currently reign supreme over the 27 teams entered into this weekend’s tournament after they finished ahead of SYC and ROBOT at the conclusion of last year’s Tour. This season led by the dream-team of Jassy Drakulic, Trish Emeny and Lola Denham – will have to answer to the skills and tactics of world class teams such as SYC, GB Women’s Masters, GB U23, and the Spanish Women’s Masters in order to keep their throne. At this event last year Punt were able to hold off Iceni in the final for a while but eventually caved into the National champions, but can they take a victory off the London warriors in Nottingham?
The GB Women’s Masters heavy ROBOT enter Tour 1 before the national players enter as GB for London’s Calling. A point to note: GB Women’s Masters won Not Fog Lane Cup 2015, where they outplayed SYC in the final 15-5. The ROBOT squad – spearheaded by the likes of Felicity Perry – boasts a wealth of experience and talent and should never be underestimated but are taking a smaller squad to Nottingham than they might have hoped for. With the weather looking decidedly dicey on Sunday these skilful ladies might find their moment to shine at this event.
The GB U23s who will be glad to test their readiness for the World Ultimate U23 Championships in London this July. After taking part in Mixed Tour earlier this year, the team will enjoy the opportunity to match up against some serious women’s competition. They start their first tournament with clashes against top competitors Nice Bristols, who have their own stash of GB representatives such as Saz Garner, Jen Hart, and Lesley Morison. According to the GB U23s this is exactly the challenge they were looking for.
A presence that cannot be ignore this weekend is that of the European Club Champions Iceni. Who will be looking to stay on top of the British game. The team’s leadership group formed by Coach Paul ‘Voodoo’ Waite, Sonia Komenda, Francesca Scarampi, and Jackie Verralls have readjusted their focus to local level development. Departures of notable players such as Isabella “Issy” Burke and Lily Huang have seen an influx of competent newcomers honing their potential within the squad ready to quash competition at Tour as well as UK Nationals in August. Of course, the return of perennial teams Relentless, Leeds, Swift and Brighton will provide the potential for upset across the seedings as these long standing teams come out in full force.
One of the most exciting factors of this season’s Tour as the team list grows will be the potential bridging of the gap between the premiere teams and development squads. Huge amounts of effort to bolster skill levels and broaden tactical arsenals have been poured into London’s Vurve Ultimate, Crown Jewels, and Phoenix. The ladies driving this shift in competitive focus are Vurve’s Laura Nel Payne, Crown Jewels captain Minfeng “Jackson” Tan partnered with vice captain Ellie Geller, and Phoenix London’s entire leadership group. Emails and Facebook posts from these teams promoting opening trainings and ladies-only hat tournaments were flying from all of them in October last year. Now it’s time for their hard work to pay off!