When netball experts talk about the best defenders in International netball Geva Mentor’s name is always mentioned. The England international and former St Peter’s School pupil has played a significant role in building the English teams capacity to match it with world leaders in Australia and New Zealand. A junior National Trampoline Champion, keen kayaker and horse rider her all round talent is exceptional. Selected for England at just 15 years of age in 2001, Geva has built a career around athleticism, ability to read the play and a desire to do what’s needed to be the very best. This drive resulted in a move from her club side in Surrey, England to the Adelaide Thunderbirds in 2007 to join the ANZ Championship. After three seasons with the Thunderbirds, including a championship win in 2010, Geva has moved to Melbourne to join the Vixens. Having played a significant role in England bronze medal at the 2010 Commonwealth Games Geva focused her attentions on winning another ANZ title with the Melbourne Vixens coming agonisingly close in 2012 as runners up to the Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic and again last year but finally achieved that ultimate domestic goal in the 2013/14 season.
On the back of this domestic success and with her reputation as an international superstar Geva has been voted the world’s best netballer in this year’s annual Guardian world top 10 rankings.
Mentor, a goal keeper who plays for Melbourne Vixens, pipped Australia’s Laura Geitz to the title but was the only British player in a list dominated by the antipodean nations.
Mentor will shortly play her 100th cap for England, a remarkable feat for the 30 year old who missed nearly two years after a dispute with Netball England management between 2011 and much of 2013. For the first time in several years, English crowds are now finally getting to see one of the game’s great goalkeepers in action. Very few defenders in the world can take clean intercepts off Fowler and Robinson – but this year Mentor proved she could do both in her characteristically clean, agile, meticulously timed, unflappable style. Mentor, along with Robinson, was vital in the Vixens winning the ANZ Championship this year.
Millard told the Guardian Australia “maturity shines in Geva’s performances. Her experience has taught her how to create unthinkable turnover without managing to foul her opponent, and makes it look effortless in the process, a clear master of her craft”. Sinclair said “Mentor regularly lowers the colours of many a goal shooter. Although Mentor took less intercepts this year than in previous seasons, her ability to blanket her player kept opponents to some of their lowest scores for the season. She was a standout for the Vixens, and battled valiantly in an under par English team”.
“Consistent in her defence this season, first class footwork to turn around a shooter – on the front and then in an instant rolls to pick off the high ball in the back space,” according to Navin, while Woods added that Mentor “rarely puts in a bad performance and her consistency was key to the success of the Melbourne Vixens”.
Geva has continued her relationship with St Peters School, seen here coaching the girls at one of the PE departments half term sports clinics. Her younger brother, fresh back from the states is soon due to return too and coach some of the students at basketball. At 6ft 9 inches tall….that should be worth watching too!