Ine-Mari Venter outlines huge ambitions for 2022 campaign
Ine-Mari Venter has made the dream start to the 2022 Vitality Netball Super League season for Saracens Mavericks, and if her ambitions are anything to go by it could be a memorable year for both the player and club.
The South African international, who by her own admission didn’t meet her desired heights last year, has started the new campaign in sensational form and she has steered the Mavericks to four wins from their opening four matches.
Venter was Player of the Match in Sunday’s win over Severn Star with an incredible 49 goals and 94% shooting accuracy, and she is delighted with how the Mavericks have hit the ground running.
“What better outcome could you ask for? We’re four from four and I think that all comes from the fact that we had a great build up to the season.” Said the 26-year-old.
She continued: “There are always things to build on and improve. Looking at the London Pulse and Severn Stars games we dipped a bit at the end when we had a big lead so that is something we can fix but they have been good performances and we’ll be looking to build on them in the coming weeks to get to that peak level.”
The start to the season hasn’t come as a surprise to those within the environment, and Venter believes that the group are much more aligned now due to their extended training time together.
“Last year we had a rocky start and obviously with COVID-19 it meant that players were in and out all the time and we couldn’t really build a connection on the court.
This year there have been very minimal changes in the squad so we are much more connected and hopefully we can keep going.”
This weekend it doesn’t get any easier for the Mavericks who host Manchester Thunder, another unbeaten side and Venter can’t wait to test herself against one of the favourites for the title.
“It’s a top of the table game and without a doubt they are contenders. The teams we have already played are all good sides but if we want to be in the top four we have to beat the best and this will help us see where we’re at. The weekend after that we play Loughborough so it’s a massive fortnight for us.”
As Goal shooter there is plenty of pressure on Venter’s shoulders, but she has big plans for this year both personally and for the team.
“After last season I wasn’t very consistent so I’ve really been working hard to improve that. My goal average last year was under 90% and as a shooter you want to be getting in the 90’s so that has been a really big aim of mine.
I’ve only been in the squad for a year and a bit but for the last few years the club have missed out on the top four so it’s an aim of ours to reach that. Once you get in to knockout matches it can be anyone’s game so we are really motivated to do that.”
It has been quite a journey to London for Venter who has played netball all around the world, but it looks like she is firmly settled in London.
“In 2019 I signed with Melbourne which was fully professional. I didn’t get a huge amount of game time but I made the World Cup team, although unfortunately I tore my calf and was sent home.
I then missed a lot of that season so joined Queensland when my contract was up but again I wasn’t playing as much as I wanted so when the opportunity came to join the Mavericks I jumped at it.
I thrive on game time and the Mavericks has been a great fit for me. Going towards the Commonwealth Games and World Cup next year I need consistency so that’s my aim for the next year or so.”
Growing up in South Africa she has rugby firmly ingrained in her, and the association to Saracens is one that excites her.
“Any time you hear the Afrikaans language as a South African you get excited! I knew Vincent Koch was playing here but didn’t realise there is such as strong South African link at the club.
It’s the culture at home and I do enjoy it so when I can I try to come down and watch the games, it helps me clear my mind from netball!”
The Hertfordshire Sports Village is set to be another sell-out this weekend, and Venter could not stress enough how much they can play their part.
“Any crowd beats behind closed doors! It honestly makes such a difference and that game a couple of weeks ago was my first Mavericks one with fans. It was so loud and I’m really looking forward to playing in front of them again more regularly.”
If Venter can continue her early season form, she could well become yet another household name amongst followers of Saracens in her hunt for silverware this year.