Turning 40 holds no fear for Irene van Dyk.
The star Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic shooter acknowledges the milestone, which she reached yesterday, may be considered rather old in sporting terms but feels physically and mentally as sharp as ever. Her stats and performances in this year's ANZ Championship are testament to the fact she is still very much on her game.
"Turning 40 is fantastic ... I feel no pressure because of my age," says van Dyk.
"But I was quite a late developer in netball, 28 when I came to New Zealand. I think that's added to my longevity in the game. If I'd trained as hard as I do now from a much younger age, I don't think I'd have lasted this long.
"I feel very comfortable still [out on court] but it's the people around me who make me look good. It's really nice to have such quality players around you ... I feel fantastic and I'm enjoying it as much as ever."
Not sure what all the fuss is about regarding her 40th birthday, van Dyk has been more focused on tomorrow's clash with top-of-the-table Adelaide Thunderbirds in Tauranga. Magic turned the corner last weekend with a hard-fought victory over Northern Mystics, a result that pushed them into the top four with Thunderbirds, Vixens and Mystics, respectively, ahead of them.
Magic have been building every week after emerging from a four-game losing streak at the start of the competition and van Dyk is convinced there's more to come.
Her combination with goal attack Julianna Naoupu has certainly been going from strength to strength, the young goal attack stepping up when the pressure is on the goal shoot.
"We give each other confidence and that's the same with the whole team. To come from 10th to being in the top four and knowing we can still improve is pretty exciting. We've had our backs against the wall and still have two massive games coming up but I think we're ready."
Van Dyk expects a physical encounter against Thunderbirds.
"We will need to weather the storm. They'll come out hard and we need to play the full 60 minutes and when we get the knocks, get up and just settle, play our own style and dictate the pace.
"It won't be an open game. I think it will be even tighter than against Mystics ... we'll have to be very clinical."
Van Dyk is rapt Magic have the home advantage for the next two rounds.
"It's comfortable on home ground and having most of the people there cheering for you. To have that support and have the crowd go haywire when you slot a goal ... I do think it gives the home team a little bit of an edge."
Husband Christie and 14-year-old daughter Bianca will be in the crowd, adding to the excitement for van Dyk who credits her family with providing the support she needs to continue following her sporting aspirations. "Without their support I wouldn't be able to do this."
The three are pretty organised around van Dyk's regular trips north from Wellington to train and play. She keeps the housework up too and her husband, who runs the cricket programme at Scotts College, takes care of the meals.
He also still helps van Dyk - and now Bianca, who is also a goal shoot - train, using a broom to mimic the tough defence they may come up against as they practise shooting goals, toughening them up for the real thing. And after every game van Dyk looks forward to a text from her husband.
"I get the rundown with a text right after every game. If I've thrown a few balls away he might text that my passes weren't up to scratch. He's pretty critical but if we've had a good game he'll text, 'You are the best in the world' ... I love his texts. He's always spot on and I always take his tips on board."
It was her husband who told van Dyk some years ago to "ride the wave", play top-level netball for as long as she was able and the shooter - who has played 130 matches for New Zealand and 72 for South Africa - has no thought of retiring. She says only a career-ending injury or non-selection would force her out of the game.
"As long as I am selected, as long as I am improving and am still a force out there, I will definitely keep giving it everything I have.
"I still love it and definitely think the older you get the more you appreciate things. Every time I run out on to the court I relish every moment."
Magic play Thunderbirds at Tauranga's TECT Arena at 4.20pm tomorrow. In other matches NSW Swifts play Southern Steel, Queensland Firebirds play West Coast Fever and Canterbury Tactix face Mystics, all on Sunday, while Central Pulse play Melbourne Vixens on Monday.