A GREAT Sutton basketball star will celebrate her 16th birthday in style this weekend – by representing her country at international level.
Alleana Reddy, who turns 16 on Saturday, has been named in England’s 12-strong girls squad for the European Under 16s Championships in Bulgaria.
On Sunday she will pull on her country’s colours in a warm-up match against Holland in Reading – knowing a win would cap her birthday weekend perfectly.
But it looked at one stage as if Cheshire Jets youth player Alleana would not make it into the England squad.
Dad Allan said: “She just keeps forcing her way in there. It originally looked as if she would miss out as she was not initially selected, but she was spotted at a tournament and impressed enough to warrant inclusion.
“Now she has made it through the selection camps to the 12-strong squad for Bulgaria.”
Alleana has been playing basketball since she started attending Ellesmere Port Catholic High, where she came under the tutelage of Cheshire Jets stalwart Mike Burton.
Now she stars at club level for the Jets youth side (formerly the Ellesmere Port Panthers) and at school level for the highly-regarded Catholic High team.
Alleana, of Hope Farm Road, has already won international honours for England U14s having been guided through the ranks by Burton, Jets youth coach Jimmy McGinn and England coaches Karen Burton and Mike Thomas.
She also trains the Jets’ youngest players with coach Andy Green.
Dad Allan added: “She works hard and loves the game. The fact she has ability only helps.
“She is not the biggest in the England squad but she does her job and does it well enough to be selected regularly.”
Alleana was member of the England team which recently won a tournament in France. She will play on Sunday against the Dutch and in a warm-up competition in Luxembourg before the European Championships start on August 8.
This is her final year as a youth player as next season she must step up to the women’s team, a move she has already experimented with.
Unlike former Panthers club-mates Johannah and Jennifer Leedham, who travelled to America to take up college scholarships, Alleana intends to do her A-levels at the Catholic High and join a scholarship at Leeds University, where she will train to be a PE teacher.
“She is in a great position to do what she wants in the sport, thanks to her hard work and the work of the coaches,” said Allan.
“And her sister Sidnee is already surpassing her achievements at U14s level, so watch this space.”