Jets taking champion mindset into top-of-table showdown
WHEN you set the highest standards like Tracey Jeanes-Fraser, playing the best gets the adrenaline pumping.
That's why the USQ Jets head coach is so excited about the Ipswich team's next Sapphire Series showdown.
Fresh from a fourth consecutive victory, the Jets face the Cougars in a top-of-the-table duel at the Queensland State Netball Centre this weekend.
Both teams are unbeaten after the Jets accounted for Thunder 67-46 and the Cougars tamed the Wildcats 68-48 in their latest clashes.
Heading into those Sunday night games, the Jets and Cougars were deadlocked on 51 points. The competition pacesetters Cougars (181-118) and second-placed Jets (170-129) had similar for and against records.
With the Jets drawing one of their quarters on Sunday night, the Cougars moved one point ahead of the Jets heading into their hotly anticipated tussle.
"It's a game that we've been prepping for,'' Jeanes-Fraser said, clearly keen to see how her side responds to its biggest test so far on Sunday night.
"Cougars are renowned for having the quality players and they've always been up in the top echelon of our netball environment.
"To be able to get out on the court next week and have a little bit of a sight as to what they are going to bring this year and what we can put to them is going to give us some really good information moving forward to the back end of the season.''
The Cougars finished second last year with the Jets third.
Jeanes-Fraser was a former Queensland Fusion head coach for three years before joining the Jets inaugural side last season.
As a head of junior HPE and sport at St Aidan's Anglican Girls School in Brisbane, she is highly respected in Queensland netball.
"The biggest thing that we are trying to do this year is to maintain a real champion mindset,'' she said.
"Keeping a champion mindset is about making our players understand dealing with challenges and looking at challenges as being opportunity.''
In the Jets latest win over Thunder, the players didn't start as well as they would have liked, being five goals down at one stage.
However, the Jets rose to the occasion to secure another comfortable victory.
"One thing that we are seeing, that we probably didn't see as much last year, is that we are able to catch up,'' the coach said.
"We are patient and we are able to execute the skills under that fatigue and under that pressure environment whereas last year I felt like we were probably just a little bit off the mark.
"What we are doing really well is the girls are really honing in to the game plan and when we do tend to go away, we are able to bring them back in.''
Jeanes-Fraser has used her top nine players consistently in the first four matches, keen to avoid becoming predictable.
"We want to make sure that we are keeping ourselves on our toes so we're mixing it up a little bit to challenge ourselves as coaches as well,'' she said.
She's been particularly happy with Bridie Condren, Lucy Benjamin, captain Stephanie O'Brien and vice-captain Brooke Hams.
"Bridie has had a really outstanding season to date,'' Jeanes-Fraser said.
Goal defender Condren has received a temporary contract with the national league West Coast Fever side.
"She got called in week one for them but has been fortunate to come back to us as well,'' the Jets coach said.
"Lucy Benjamin is really stepping up as a goal attack role this year.''
O'Brien and Hams have used their experience to control the midcourt.
"Steph and Brooke have a fantastic combination at the moment,'' Jeanes-Fraser said.
"As a coach I'm also playing around with some combinations just to see what will work against different teams so everyone is taking on those opportunities and running with it, which is terrific.''
The Jets Rubies are also unbeaten after their fourth win over the Cougars 56-53 on Sunday night.
Jeanes-Fraser was pleased to see her assistant Camille Rieck introducing younger players into her squad as the Jets look to make consecutive Ruby Series grand finals.
"That is a tribute to what we've got currently sitting in our region and the future looks really bright for us,'' Jeanes-Fraser said.
"We've just got to make that we, as coaches, are on the mark and making sure we are keeping those girls challenged and supportive all the way through.''
STATE OF PLAY
Sapphire Series: Jets def Thunder 67-46.
Next game: Sunday (5pm) - Jets v Cougars.
Ruby Series: Jets def Cougars 56-53, Jets def Panthers 55-42 (September 1).
Next game: Sunday (7pm) - Jets v Thunder.
All games at Queensland State Netball Centre.