Mia Ritchie and Tash Pavelin have become the latest players to commit to Team Bath Netball for the 2018 Vitality Superleague season.
It will be an ninth successive Superleague campaign for Ritchie, a key member of the leadership team whose dynamic mid-court performances have made her a huge favourite of the Blue and Gold supporters.
By contrast it will be a first taste of Superleague for University of Bath Natural Sciences student Pavelin, who makes the step-up to the highest level of domestic netball after captaining the U21 NPL team last season.
“I am delighted to have signed for this franchise again and to continue onto my ninth season in the Blue and Gold,” said Ritchie, a University of Bath Sports Performance graduate who won the Superleague title in 2013. Away from the court, she is head of girls’ games at Monkton Combe School in Bath.
“This place has become my second home and there was never any doubt that I wanted to still be a part of this exciting journey and see where this season takes us.
“I am looking forward to the challenge and even though I’m one of the ‘old ones’ now it’s an honour as always to put the Bath dress on. This season we have really invested in what we think is the best squad to take the team forward and I truly believe we have the quality to go all the way.”
Pavelin added: “I’m very excited to have been given the opportunity to be a part of the Superleague squad for this season and I can’t wait to work with the rest of the squad.
“I am looking forward to the new challenges that this year will bring and working hard to improve over the season ahead.”
Both Ritchie and Pavelin were part of the Sitec-sponsored Team Bath squad that went mighty close to winning the inaugural British Fast5 All-Stars Championships at The O2 Arena in London on Saturday.
A nail-biting 19-18 win over Team Northumbria and an exciting 34-26 success against Severn Stars, inspired by some long bombs from Chelsea Lewis during the double-points power-play, put Team Bath through to the final against Loughborough Lightning.
The Blue and Gold performed superbly to hold the lead for almost all of a thrilling 12-minute match, with a three-pointer from Kadeen Corbin putting them 33-30 up in the last minute, only for Renske Stolz to land a decisive five-pointer for Lightning 15 seconds from time.
Director of Netball Jess Thirlby said: “To reach the final in the style we did was fantastic – the energy from the team was brilliant and the players showed real intuition and game sense in what is a much faster paced, dynamic version of the game.
“It’s always a bit gutting to lose but we felt we played a big part in what must have been a real spectacle for the neutral. Making finals and enabling players to experience that is always important and they did themselves and the franchise proud.”
Seven players have now been confirmed in the Superleague squad for 2018, with Ritchie and Pavelin joining Eboni Beckford-Chambers, Layla Guscoth, Lewis, Imogen Allison and returning international shooter Corbin in committing to the Blue and Gold.
“It is great to have Mia and Tash on board for the 2018 season,” Thirlby added. “They are at different stages of their career but both will contribute massively in the year ahead.
“It’s hard to believe it is going to be Mia’s ninth season with us, I remember her arriving here as a student. She is an amazing role model and for her to show that kind of loyalty to the Blue and Gold is fantastic, we are proud that she continues to see us as a place to improve and achieve.
“Tash thoroughly deserves her place in the squad. Both [coach] Anna Stembridge and I were incredibly impressed with her attitude and performances last year, her first at the University of Bath, and being around the likes of Eboni and Layla will accelerate that development.”
More signings will be announced in the coming days, along with the fixtures for the 2018 season and ticket details. Visit www.teambath.com/netball or follow TeamBathNetball on Facebook or Twitter to stay up to date.
Team Bath Netball are sponsored by Sitec and supported by partners Mogers Drewett and Investigo. Centurion Chartered Financial Planners are supporting the team’s performance analysis capabilities, Viper 10 are their Sportswear Supplier and Skins provide the team with compression wear.
Report courtesy of the Team Bath Press Office at Matchtight