MANCHESTER High will start as one of the favourites in the ISSA/Digicel Rural Schoolgirls Junior and Senior Netball Leagues which get underway this afternoon.
Today's Juniors matches are scheduled to begin at 2:30 pm, followed by the Seniors at approximately 3:30. Some 82 schools will participate this season.
The Manchester girls emerged Rally champions in both sections by twice defeating Holmwood Technical. In the Juniors, Manchester won, 6-4, while in the Seniors they carved out a close 5-4 victory to capture both titles on their home court last Thursday.
Their coach Simone Smith said despite winning the Rally titles, the teams will be play hard and will take the rounds one at a time.
"I know that Holmwood will be coming back fighting hard as they want to retain their Senior League title, while Manchester will be hoping to accomplish that feat for the first time," Smith said.
She said she thinks she can retain the Junior League title this year and will play their first game on Friday at home against May Day High in both sections.
The other teams in Zone F are Bishop Gibson High, Cross Keys High and DeCarteret College.
Holmwood's coach Carline Graham said her team is on target as the players have just ended a camp.
"The team is ready for the challenge. We've retained eight of our players from last year's winning aggregation... The team is looking good and ready to emerge champions again," she said.
"Losing to Manchester High in the Rally will not affect the team or players as any team can win a Rally competition," Graham argued.
Many-time and defending Senior League champions Holmwood will bow into action on September 26 away to Bellefield High for both encounters in Zone E.
The other competing schools in the group are Knox College, Porus High, Spalding High and Alston High. Other matches scheduled to begin this afternoon in both Junior and Senior sections are:
Zone A: Montego Bay vs Holland; St James vs Green Pond High; Zone C: Little London vs Godfrey Stewart; Zone D: Lacovia vs Lewisville; Zone H: Claude McKay vs Thompson Town; Zone J: Marymount vs Brimmervale; Iona vs Oracabessa; St Mary High vs Islington; Zone K: Marcus Garvey vs Steer Town; Ferncourt High vs Cedric Titus; Zone L: Fair Prospect vs Port Antonio; Seaforth vs Paul Bogle and Happy Grove vs St Thomas Technical.
Action continues tomorrow with the following matches: Hopewell vs Anchovy; Rhodes Hall vs Irwin; William Knibb vs Muschett; Manning's vs Petersfield; Belmont vs Frome Technical. Hampton vs Black River; Kemp's Hill vs Foga Road; St Hilda's vs Ocho Rios.
Home teams are named first.