Two-time WNBL championship winner Jacqui Zelenka is poised to be the pride of Mackay tomorrow night when she lines up for the JCU Townsville Fire in front of her home crowd.
Born and bred on a pineapple farm on the outskirts of the city, the 24-year-old is one of the unheralded heroes from the Fire’s back-to-back championship wins.
About to enter her third WNBL campaign, Zelenka, who spent four years playing college basketball for South West Baptist University before breaking into the professional ranks, is looking forward to running out at McDonald’s Mackay Stadium.
“It should be great for the city,” Zelenka said.
“It’s wonderful that we’re able to take the WNBL to another regional location and one that is thriving at QBL level.
“I’m sure the crowd will get behind us and it also shows the junior players what is possible to them (if they follow their dreams).”
Having recently concluded her QBL commitments with Mackay, Zelenka will line up alongside two former fan favourites at the Crater in the form of Rachael McCully and Kayla Standish, the latter claiming two rings alongside her for the Meteorettes.
“It’s always good to see Flanny back,” Zelenka said.
“She played for Mackay a few years ago, so she’ll be a well-known face and people will enjoy her playing here as well.
“And the Mackay crowd always enjoys seeing Kayla play as well.”
Despite limited opportunities in her first two WNBL campaigns, head coach Claudia Brassard said Zelenka was an invaluable member of her line-up and praised the undersized forward for the work she does around the group.
“She’s an important player in our team,” Brassard said.
“She has to mark Suzy (Batkovic) ate every training session and that’s not an easy task, but she keeps her accountable and she crashes the boards and does anything that we ask her to do.
“She doesn’t get the plaudits of some of her teammates, but in our eyes, she’s an extremely important player in our squad.”
The Fire will tip-off at 7pm tomorrow night against the Brydens Sydney Uni Flames.
Click here to pre-purchase tickets to the Mackay Pride WNBL Spectacular.