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Mikki Austin excited for Big Easter Weekend

Surrey Storm head to Coventry buoyed by two fantastic wins and excited at the prospect of a Big Easter Weekend on the road.

Storm face joint Vitality Netball Superleague leaders Wasps Netball on home turf at the Ricoh Arena on Saturday, followed by Sky Sports’ live game against Severn Stars on Sunday – and Mikki Austin is feeling the nervous anticipation as the season draws to a thrilling climax.

“It’s really stressful, I won’t lie,” she only half-jokes at the prospect of preparing for two games in 24 hours. “I’m sure it’s a bit of an unknown quantity for us all, but you have to get behind any event where we can showcase the ferocity and intensity of our sport, so I’m looking forward to it.”

Austin knows that both games will provide a stern test of Storm’s excellent recent form but, she recognises, the pairings have also provided valuable opportunities. “Luckily, we’re playing two opposition who play slightly similar styles, so our game plan will be more based around us and our ability to execute better in our core areas. When we’re facing two completely separate opposition, we can’t break them down this closely back-to-back.”

The old adage of letting the opposition worry about you surely also applies, after two hugely impressive wins earned in contrasting circumstances, against Loughborough Lightning and London Pulse.

“I was probably more proud of our victory versus Pulse, for completely different reasons,” admits Mikki, who saw her team come from behind to snatch a late win for the first time in 2019. “We went to Lightning with zero pressure, but then Pulse was one of the most topsy-turvy games we’ve been in this season. We’re really impressed that we managed to grind out a performance and for the last four minutes click our minds into gear!

“For that I’m really proud, and I told the girls that we will learn more about ourselves and each other from winning that game than we will any other game.”

The next two fixtures follow a similar pattern – one side, Wasps, chasing Vitality Netball Superleague glory; the other, Stars, finding form after a disappointing start to the season – and Mikki is well aware that the end of the season will perhaps come at the wrong time for Storm.

“After this weekend we’ve got two games left and that’s it. I can’t believe that! It’s that old wives’ tale of not wishing your life away,” she laughs. “But it’s ‘shoulda woulda coulda’… had we have found our form marginally earlier, what would we have done? I don’t think we’ve ever lacked form in the whole, I think it’s just been tying that together for 60 minutes.

“I’m looking forward to the challenge of the next four rounds. There’s a lot of stress in making sure we’re well prepared and we see improvement. We constantly want more, but what happens in two weeks’ time when I don’t have a game to prepare for? To be honest, I’m a little bit scared of that.”

At least this weekend offers up a rare first in Mikki’s 10 years in the Vitality Netball Superleague – the prospect of an overnight stay and a chance to enjoy the company of her team-mates away from the court.

“We’ve literally never had a Storm sleepover! At NPL level you tend to go away and stay over but you don’t really ever do it in the Vitality Netball Superleague, because you’re all working full time, so I’m really looking forward to that.”

Inevitably, though, Mikki’s attentions will soon turn back to Sunday afternoon rather than which Saturday night film to enjoy.

“I’ve tasked a couple of the girls with games night or movie night, whilst I’ll be really unsociable doing video analysis and stats. That’s why I get to call myself the Director, unfortunately… it’s a blessing and a curse all wrapped up into one!

“But I’ll be good it’ll be good for us to spend some time together away from netball, to give us that mental refresh going into the second game,” she highlights, knowing that fatigue can be in the brain as much as in the body.

“As seriously as we take it, it’s important that we give ourselves a mental break and have that downtime, because then ultimately they give me and the team their best when they step out onto court. This league is brutal and unforgiving, and being able to give that extra one percent might be the difference.”

Tickets for both days of the BIG Easter Weekend are still available – click here for full details.

Image credit: Surrey Storm 

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Q&A: Storm’s Yasmin Parsons and Lorraine Kowalewska

Two-time Vitality Netball Superleague champions Surrey Storm are ready to rise in 2019!

Storm finished seventh in 2018 and are now determined to rise together as a team and challenge at the top end of the table once again.

Ahead of the season, we caught up with Yasmin Parsons and Lorraine Kowalewska to get their thoughts on the team’s strengths and working with Mikki Austin.

How excited and ready are you for the new season?

Yasmin: Definitely ready! Last year with the Commonwealths in between, we started and finished later so it’s been quite a tight turnaround this time so I’m definitely ready and really looking forward to it. I know our team has had a few changes as well so it’ll be good to put that out onto court and see what we’re made of.

Lorraine: Just super excited for the season! With the new faces and some of the other team members we’ve had for a while, just solidifying those combinations should be good.

What are Storm’s main strengths?

Lorraine: Family – we’re a big Storm family, we do really support each other in whatever we’re doing and we try and be there for each other as much as we can.

Yasmin: If things aren’t going quite right in the game or I know we’ve had a few friendlies, we really do back each other. Obviously in the game, you’re going to have dips but we really do come together. We’re quite united as a front and I know Mikki’s trying to get the theme of us rising as we’ve had a few changes and I think it’s about time that Storm picked itself up. We’ve gone from winning the Vitality Netball Superleague to then finishing seventh in 2018 so it is about us rising together. I think with the group of girls we’ve got this year, we’re more than able to do that.

What are your expectations and aims for 2019?

Yasmin: I think everyone’s expectation is to be in the top four and I think our aim is definitely to get there as well. With the new players, we also want to form bonds. Doing better than last season is one of our main targets too.

What’s Mikki Austin like as Storm Director of Netball?

Lorraine: She’s very tactical and technical and she pushes us hard. I think she will admit that she’s a young Director of Netball but I think whatever she doesn’t know, she’ll work hard to learn it or get experience from other people. She knows what she wants out of the franchise and is trying really hard to ensure that she implements that. It might not happen this year but I really believe that she is looking to the future in terms of pushing Storm to rise.  

You can get tickets to watch all 10 teams in action at the Super 10 season opener here.

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Mikki Austin appointed Director of Netball at Surrey Storm

Vitality Netball Superleague team Surrey Storm today announced the appointment of Mikki Austin as its new Director of Netball.

Mikki, 24, joined Surrey Storm in 2015 and was part of the back-to-back title winning Superleague squad in 2015 and 2016.

Disappointingly for her, much of the 2018 season was spent on the sidelines due to injury, making her return at the tail end of the 2018 season.

A firm fans’ favourite and three-time winner of the fans’ player of the season accolade, Mikki’s determination and professionalism on court make her a perfect role model for Storms’ loyal fan base who continue to pack out their home arena at Surrey Sports Park, throughout the competitive season.

Whilst this is Mikki’s inaugural Director of Netball position, she has vast coaching experience, running one of the Storm academy hubs last season and in her most recent role as Netball Coach at Putney High School.

This morning Mikki Austin commented: ‘I am thrilled to be appointed as Director of Netball at Surrey Storm and, whilst the new season seems like a long way off at the moment, I cannot wait to get started on our preparations to make it a successful one.

‘I am focusing on making sure we can attract some new players to add strength and bolster our already strong squad, so we are ready to compete at the highest level as we aim to compete for a top four spot.

‘I have enjoyed every moment of my time with Storm so far, especially as we have enjoyed some great successes which I really want to be part of again; I have big aspirations for what we can achieve and I look forward to building an exciting next generation of Surrey Storm.’

Gavin Baker, Director of Sport said: ‘Since arriving here in 2015, Mikki has been a stalwart of the Storm squad, bringing not only talent, but a real passion and desire to succeed on behalf of the team.

‘Her love of the game is clear for everyone to see with Storms’ tag line of #BleedBlue being a natural personification.

‘Her appointment will help raise Storm’s profile to a wider audience, not just in Surrey, but nationally. I firmly believe she will be an asset to us both on and off the court.’

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Storm’s Mikki Austin put Sky Netball to the test!

We all know that to perform at Vitality Netball Superleague level, the athletes in all teams have to train hard.

Core strength in netball is vital for all players on court for stability – and Mikki Austin of Surrey Storm has put Sky Sports Netball presenter Anna Woolhouse to the test with some exercises.

You can watch the video and pick up some great tips from Austin here: http://www.skysports.com/watch/video/sports/netball/10215169/netball-fitness-core-stability