Jacklyn Lahari: From tennis to netball
Lahari among six PNG nationals to compete in the M1 Netball Super League on Netball Singapore's invitation
As a tennis player, Jacklyn Lahari was good enough to earn sports scholarships to complete her high school education in Fiji, and to attend college in the United States.
But, instead of pursuing a pro career after she graduated, the 28-year-old Papua New Guinea (PNG) national is now representing her country in netball.
She is currently in Singapore with five national teammates, on Netball Singapore's invitation, to compete in the M1 Netball Super League club competition.
"My mother and my sister played netball and represented the country, and I started playing the sport when I was four or five," said the wing attack yesterday at Netball Singapore's Kallang headquarters.
Lahari picked up tennis at age 12 or 13, when one of her aunts, a tennis coach, came to her school for a training session and asked her to join in.
She got the hang of it quickly, and secured a scholarship to study and train at the International Tennis Federation's Pacific Training Centre in Lautoka, Fiji, from 2003 to 2006.
She then completed her college education in Texas at the Collin College, off a sports scholarship, but decided to return to Papua New Guinea as she preferred to pursue a career in sports coaching or management.
"When I returned to my country I just wanted to keep fit, and I had the opportunity to attend the national netball team's training camp," said Lahari, who will represent the Fier Orcas in the local league.
"From the camp I was among the top 20 players, and then the top 15, and my dad and brother was asking me if I wanted to pursue this (netball) or tennis."
She followed in her mother's and sister's footsteps, and made her international debut in a tri-nations tournament with Fiji and Northern Ireland in 2014.
Lahari also featured for PNG in the invitational Nations Cup here in 2014 and last year, and played for the Central Coast Heart netball team in the New South Wales Premier Netball League in Australia last season.
The state-level competition is a third-tier tournament, after the Suncorp Super Netball and the second-tier Australian Netball League.
"I grew a lot as a person, and as a player, the latter in terms of court skills and knowledge," said Lahari, who helps out at her brother's events management company during the off-season.
"The game is a lot faster than it is here, but other than that there is no difference."
She has been sharing her experience and knowledge with her national teammates, and is keen to do the same for her Fier Orcas teammates here as well.
"I have blended in well here and I am working hard to help the attacking players," said Lahari, who arrived on Monday.
"We've talked in our training sessions and I am looking forward to the games."