Don’t be intimidated.
While Bathurst High School’s imposing Astley Cup tennis side will land in Orange as red-hot favourites for Thursday’s tie-opening clash, Hornets coach Peita Mages urged her troops to stay confident and fight fire with fire.
Bathurst dismantled Dubbo College 10 sets to two last week to lay the foundations for the school’s massive opening tie victory, but the Hornets’ side has an abundance of young talent and enthusiasm in Nathan and Jarryd Seib, Aleks Radojicic, Andrew Nievins, Jess Puxty, Mackenzie Smith and Milika and Tabua Tuinakauvadra.
Their efforts will set the tone for the opening day, which looks likely to play a huge role in the tie’s result, which will determine whether the cup is still alive at all when the Hornets travel to Dubbo next week.
Bathurst needs only to win this week’s tie – regardless of scoreline – to claim a second straight title win, but Mages says that puts more pressure on the reigning champions than the Hornets.
“We can consider ourselves the underdogs … the pressure’s on them,” Mages said at Monday’s launch assembly at Orange High’s Pickering Hall.
“I don’t want [my players] to be intimidated because I know they can bring it. Let them come here and see if they’re able to push around in our house.
The #AstleyCup18 buzz is building at Orange High! The Hornets 🐝🐝🐝 hosted their pep rally this morning, ahead of welcoming Bathurst this week. School captain Elijah Smyth sent a message to Bathurst too - "you may have beaten @DubboCollege, but this is a different ball game". pic.twitter.com/hpOs3s6IJF— Matt Findlay (@MRFindlay24) June 25, 2018
“Matches can be won and lost in the head, so we need to make sure our worst enemy isn’t between our own ears.”
Orange High’s Astley Cup coordinator Tegan Dray recognises how big a boost an early tennis victory would be to her side’s claims, especially with the Hornets’ typically favoured sports of netball, basketball and hockey all being on Friday’s second day.
She also agreed Mages’ side enters as underdogs, but said it – and Orange High’s boys’ and girls’ football and athletics teams, which also compete on day one – shouldn’t be written off just because they’ve not been the Hornets’ most dominant sides in the past.
“[Netball, basketball and hockey] have been our most consistent sports in recent years and we’re expecting them to go well again, but our other teams can’t be discounted, you just can’t undervalue their contribution and ability,” Dray said.
Let them come here and see if they’re able to push us around in our house.Orange High tennis coach Peita Mages
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“Some results have already suggested what the other schools are capable of but in this competition you genuinely just don’t know until the day as to what could happen. The home advantage, the pressure, it all does funny things.
“Being at home, knowing Bathurst is coming to try and win the cup, we have to win. It’s good to know exactly what we have to do and I think maybe having the second tie will be an advantage for us.
“We’ve seen how well, or otherwise, the other schools have gone so we’ve been able to do a little bit of homework and prepare well.”
Orange High will welcome Bathurst’s troops at 9am, before tennis kicks off the opening day at 9.15am, at Orange Ex-Services Tennis Club.
The boys’ and girls’ football follows that at 11.30am and 1pm respectively and the athletics rounds out the first day’s sporting events from 2.15pm, all three events are at Orange High.
The Mulvey Cup debating is also on Thursday, kicking off at 5.30pm in Orange High’s library.
Basketball kicks off Friday’s second day at 9.30am and netball follows at 11am, both at Sir Neville Howse Stadium, before rugby league at 12.30pm at Wade Park.
Hockey is the leg’s main event, finishing the tie off at Orange Hockey Centre from 2.15pm.