Robert Bailey, Gleaner Writer
Jamaica's Sunshine Girls will be aiming to maintain their two-point rating lead over arch-rivals England when both teams clash in the opening match of a three-Test series today in LG Arena in London starting at 1:30 p.m. (Jamaica time).
The Jamaicans are ranked third in the world with a rating of 151, two points above the English, who are ranked fourth.
A series victory for the Sunshine Girls will see them extending their advantage over their rivals. In the last three-Test series against England, the Sunshine Girls defeated their opponents 2-1 on home turf in 2011.
"The girls are really excited about going out there to play against the England team," said goal shooter Romelda Aiken, who is expected to lead the Sunshine Girls' attack, along with fellow shooters Jhaniele Fowler and Ann-Kay Griffiths.
"I expect them (England) to come and play hard because that is what they have been doing over the past year, but we have been training really well and we just want to go out there and do our best," said Aiken, who last represented Jamaica at the 2011 World Netball Championships in Singapore.
Head coach Oberon Pitterson-Nattie is very confident ahead of today's opening match. "It is a series that we need to win and we need to win it at any cost," Pitterson-Nattie said shortly before the team left for England. "I know that it is going to be tough out there ... and we're really looking forward to the challenge," she said.
She added that they have worked very hard in their preparations for the series, especially in the defensive and mid-court areas.
"Coming back from the AFNA Championships a month ago, we really cued in on what we needed to do and different areas that we needed to work on and we have seen the improvements. We had our camp and we have seen a lot of improvements each day," Pitterson-Nattie said. "They are one of our main rivals and so it is always good, strong competition and the atmosphere is very fierce, and so we just have to keep our focus."
Squad: Nadine Bryan, Romelda Aiken, Ann-Kay Griffiths, Malsha Kelly, Jhaniele Fowler, Sasha-Gay Lynch, Patricia McCalla, Shantal Slater, Sabrina Spence, Kimone Tulloch, Vanessa Walker, Vangelee Williams.
The second match in the series will be played on September 24, and final game two days later.