SOUTH REGIONAL champions Portsmouth Grammar School under-14s take to the national stage in search of more glory on Saturday.
The impressive squad are gearing up for a frantic day of fast-paced action against the best the country has to offer at Basildon Sports Village.
They will take confidence from the way they stylishly booked their place among the elite.
There was no stopping the Portsmouth girls in the regional round as they won all eight of their matches.
A sensational semi-final battle with Beaconsfield tested the nerves to the full.
The match went to extra-time – two minutes each way – with PGS eventually coming out on top with a 16-12 success.
In the final, The Abbey provided the opposition but were seen off 13-10.
Even an injury to captain Alice Cheshire, in the third pool match, did not derail PGS as the squad proved they are brimming with talent.
Coach Mandy Day praised her team after their sensational run.
She said: ‘The semi-final was critical, really close. It went to extra-time and we came through it.
‘The key thing for us in the final was that all the members of my squad who were fit got on court.
‘Unfortunately, I lost my captain to injury in the third of the pool matches.
‘She couldn’t play on, so to do it without her made it even more of an achievement.
‘Our shooters, Megan Dennis and Isabel Boden, were outstanding under pressure.
‘They did a really good job, showing a good level of concentration.’
The girls are the first group from the school to have qualified for the national finals since 2005.
The top state and independent schools are now primed for battle in two groups of nine teams, all playing eight matches, before the top two from each group reach the semi-finals.
Day is hoping to have Cheshire fit and believes PGS will shine again.
She said: ‘We hope Alice will be alright to play.
‘It will be tough – it is a long day with lots of matches but the girls all pull together on the court.
‘I think they are brilliant. They love playing and are determined and focused.
‘They are really excited. It is going to be a brilliant experience for them.’
One player who could be crucial for PGS is Ashleigh Dekker.
She is going forward to national screening and could have a bright future in the sport.
Day added: ‘I think she will be one to watch. She is playing in a match for Team South and trains with the southern region. She is a very high level.
‘For me, she plays defence and is fantastic but she has been selected for the southern region as a shooter.
‘It shows she is a great all-rounder. She is also good at hockey, so she’s a very talented girl.’
PGS: Holly Baker, Alice Cheshire, Megan Dennis, Kat Sillett,
Isobel Stancliffe, Kira Walker, Isabel Boden, Ashleigh Dekker, Caitlin Hoddle, Dominique Warren