29 October 2021

After the WNBL COVID bubble last year, the UC Capitals are back with nine home games this season

| Tim Gavel
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UC Caps

Can’t wait to see the UC Caps back in action? You’re not alone! Photo: File.

Evidence that the world is returning to normal continues, the latest good news comes in the form of the WNBL draw for the upcoming season after the COVID-enforced ‘bubble’ last year.

The bubble meant that the competition proceeded but only with every team based in Queensland.

The draw for the upcoming season, which begins in early December and continues until April next year, will see the UC Capitals return to play nine home games at the National Convention Centre.

The AIS Arena remains out of action, potentially posing a problem if the Capitals make the finals, but that is a story for another day.

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There are plenty of positives coming out of the UC Capitals with the retention of all but three key players, Marianna Tolo, Maddi Rocci and Keely Froling.

Championship player Kelly Wilson is back alongside Keely Froling’s sister, Alicia, and LA Sparks WNBA player, Brittney Sykes.

Sykes’ credentials are enormous. In the past season, she was named in the WNBA defensive first team.

Coach Paul Gorris says Sykes is keen to develop other parts of her game in the WNBL.

And there’s a certain amount of relief with Kelsey Griffin continuing to play.

“There was some doubt, but it’s great to lock her in. She is a super competitive player,” says Gorris.

Young gun Jade Melbourne is back, as is Mikaela Ruef and Tahlia Tupaea, along with Alex Bunton, despite retiring a few years ago following her 11th knee operation.

But Gorris says the competition will be particularly tough this season; “Everyone’s goal is to win the championship. The quality of imports across the league is the strongest I have seen in the competition.”

He says returning to play in front of home fans after being in the bubble last year is a major boost.

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Another positive is the retention of the majority of the club’s corporate partners.

UC Capitals general manager Lucille Bailey says it’s significant given the impact of COVID last season on the competition.

“We have had almost a 100 per cent retention of our major commercial partners last season and again this season.”

The UC Capitals will play their first three games against Sydney, with the first encounter away from home on 5 December.

Goriss says with six weeks to go, his players are training on court twice a day, six days a week, as well as gym work and conditioning.

He’s keen to ensure there is a gradual build-up to the start of the season. The players, like the fans, are eager for the season to get underway.

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