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Last Updated: Saturday, 19 January 2008, 21:38 GMT
Female ref excited by first major
BBC Sport's Saj Chowdhury at Wembley Arena

Michaela Tabb
Tabb was a pool referee before moving to snooker
Michaela Tabb is looking forward to becoming the first female to referee a major snooker final when she officiates at the Masters at Wembley on Sunday.

Tabb, 40, who made her professional debut at the 2002 Welsh Open, is currently the only female referee on the main snooker tour.

"I'll be making a little bit of history," Tabb told BBC Sport.

"I'm so excited. It will be the first time I will have refereed a final with a crowd of about 3,000."

The Bath-born official began refereeing on the pool circuit during the 1990s before she was approached by snooker's governing body (WPBSA).

Since then her status and stature in the sport has risen rapidly and she took charge of her first main tour final last year - the 2007 Welsh Open between Andrew Higginson and Neil Robertson.

I don't hear any condescending comments anymore, but I used to hear them

Michaela Tabb

Tabb said she was taken aback by the news she would referee the Masters final.

"I was told in mid-November. They made the announcement when I was down in Prestatyn for a qualifying event. I couldn't believe it."

The Wembley crowd is known for its boisterous behaviour and during last year's final Ronnie O'Sullivan made a gesture towards a member of the crowd who upset him while he was playing Ding Junhui.

"I'm not sure what it's going to be like out there. Will they be hard to control? I don't know," said Tabb.

"This year a couple of guys wolf-whistled at me at the end of a frame during the Stephen Maguire and Mark Selby match.

"I just didn't take any notice. You can't give an inch or it would just get worse."

I want to do the world championship final - I don't want any other referee, male or female, getting ahead of me

Michaela Tabb

Tabb, who is the mother of two young children, admitted it has been a long slog to be accepted as a premier snooker official rather than a token female referee.

"I don't hear any condescending comments anymore, but I used to hear them," she said.

"It took about four years before people stopped thinking of me as a female referee.

"And when I did my first final last year, people said, 'It's about time,' instead of people saying I was pushed to do it ahead of schedule."

Tabb has now set her sights on her next challenge.

"I'm greedy. I want to do the World Championship final. I don't want any other referee, male or female, getting ahead of me," she added.

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