London Pulse rising star Olivia Tchine has been like a swan on the netball court this season – calm on the surface, frantic underneath.
The 21-year-old is a key figure in the starting seven at Pulse, who have broken into the top four of the Vitality Netball Superleague for the first time this term.
Sam Bird’s side have set-up a semi-final clash with Loughborough Lightning on Friday, followed by the Grand Final on home soil at the Copper Box on Sunday.
Tchine looks ice-cool in the circle but behind her glassy exterior is a young player coming to terms with responsibility and pressure.
She said: “Obviously this season has been quite challenging for me.
“Being starting shooter has been very scary and I didn’t know it was going to be this scary. Apparently, I don’t show it on court but I’m honestly nervous.
“But I feel like the more games I play the easier it gets but definitely the more coach and teammate support it gets better.
“And the girls have been amazing this season. There’s been so much pressure on everyone and just supporting each other.
“But I’m still challenging myself and trying to shoot outside of my comfort zone.”
With an average age of 22, Pulse are the young upstarts of the Superleague.
Tchine and team-mates Funmi Fadoju, Ellie Rattu and Zara Everitt have used the franchise as a platform for their international ambitions.
Last month, Tchine was granted a senior Roses contract for the first time and will compete with the likes of Helen Housby, Jo Harten and Eleanor Cardwell for an England spot.
She said: “Getting selected for England, whether its Futures or Roses, has always been like a massive blessing to me and I honestly hold it so close to my heart.
“It’s just a massive opportunity that when it comes you have to take it.
“This year being selected for the Roses is very exciting and I’m very nervous but my aim is to learn from the older girls so try to take little things that they do.
“My first year I just want to learn and soak in everything and then try and put that into my own performance.
“I’m just going with the flow this year and when my time comes, I’m going to smash it.”
Who will be crowned champions? Vitality Netball Grand Final 2022 takes place at London’s Copper Box Arena this Sunday 5 June. Get your tickets here