AFTER MAKING THE BIG MOVE FROM THE UNITED KINGDOM TO THE OTHER SIDE OF THE PLANET, GEVA MENTOR HAS TAKEN THE AUSTRALIAN NETBALL SCENE BY STORM SINCE ARRIVING IN 2008.
This weekend she will be playing her 150th national league game when Sunshine Coast Lightning take on Adelaide Thunderbirds at USC Stadium in a must-win game for her team.
After a hugely successful 12 months – winning the Suncorp Super Netball title last season and then taking the Commonwealth Gold Medal with England Roses a couple of months ago – the powerful defender is looking forward to this weekend’s action.
“For me personally it will be business as usual, it was only highlighted to me this week that it is my 150th game – you just keep turning up each week and playing as normal and increasing your appearance caps without really thinking about it,” she said.
Mentor was an Adelaide Thunderbird for three years before moving to the Melbourne Vixens for six years before finally shifting to the Lightning, but back in the early days netball wasn’t necessarily the big plan.
“I got into the England team at a young age, joining the senior team in 2001 and that exposure playing for the national team through tours to Australia and New Zealand was what got my name out there in the netball circle,” she said.
“I didn’t pick netball up until quite late and when I first got selected for England I didn’t really know much about the players there or who I would be up against.”
Mentor’s talents were quickly discovered, and she was offered a dream move to the Southern Hemisphere.
“When the ANZ Championship was formed in 2008 and import players were allowed, I was contacted by the Thunderbirds and came over and ended up spending three great years there,” she recalled.
“Originally it was a shock to the system with how good the standard was, but I gradually grew into my own and we took the title in 2010.
After moving to Sunshine Coast Lightning, Mentor was keen to be part of a group that was building a team from its foundation. Against the odds, they took out the first ever Suncorp Super Netball title last season.
“It was a fairytale year for us but building with the team from the start is the kind of challenge I love – to strive towards being the best.”
Mentor is still widely regarded as one of the best players in world netball and has no plans to hang up her runners yet.
“I like to take each moment and year as it comes, now the body is in good condition and as long as I keep contributing to the team on the court particularly, that is the most important thing,” she said.
“There may come a time where I move more into a mentoring role, but as long as I can still be giving back to the sport I will try and be out there on court, playing to the best of my ability for as long as possible.”
“It is just so exciting to be part of netball at the moment I just want to ride that wave for as long as possible.”
photo Wagner Araujo
photo Jay Adeff