After sitting out last year's competition, the Sneakers Stingrays returned to the M1 Netball Super League (NSL) yesterday and delivered a statement victory in this season's opening game.
The five-time champions begun their hunt for a sixth title by edging out defending champions Mission Mannas 58-57 at the Toa Payoh Sports Hall.
The Stingrays, whose last NSL title came in 2015 and were runners-up in 2016, did not compete last year owing to a disagreement between the club and Netball Singapore over the national players' training commitments.
Stingrays captain and centre Carmen Goh, 27, said: "Today was quite a morale booster - it feels very good (to be back playing).
"We spent quite long preparing... so I think we're all very excited to start the season to show everyone what we've been working on, and also to show ourselves what we're capable of doing."
The closely fought match saw the lead change hands several times. Stingrays had the early advantage and were up 17-12 after the first quarter. Mannas levelled 29-29 at half-time and took the lead in the third quarter. But the Stingrays responded again and tied the score at 44-44 after the third period.
The final 15 minute-quarter remained tight, until the Stingrays pulled away to lead 58-52 with minutes remaining. Mannas scored five straight points but ran out of time.
Goh said: "We had a fairly good start but we're a team that's still developing, so we need to know how to maintain the lead. What worked for us today is that when we dipped, we didn't let ourselves dip too far - we managed to go back to the basics and from there build up the momentum to push again."
Mannas co-captain and goal shooter Charmaine Soh, 27, noted that the match was as tough as she had anticipated, but rued the close final score.
She said: "Both teams went all out for the ball but I felt we lacked consistency. If we could've just pushed a little bit more, we would have won so we'll fight harder the next game."
In the other two matches yesterday, 2016 champions Blaze Dolphins defeated Magic Marlins 52-48, while SRC Barracudas beat Fier Orcas 50-44.