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Last Updated: Saturday, 26 April, 2003, 04:25 GMT 05:25 UK
Tabb causes a stir
By Phil Harlow
BBC Sport at The Crucible

Snooker referee Michaela Tabb
Michaela Tabb does not quite live up to the stereotypical image of a snooker referee.

While lacking nothing in her understanding of the miss rule or the appreciation of the finer points of safety play, Tabb is neither dour, middle-aged or male, thus making her stick out like a sore thumb in her staid world of snooker officialdom.

Tabb has caused quite a stir since her arrival in Sheffield to become the first woman to referee a match in the Embassy World Championship.

And BBC Sport caught up with her after her second game at The Crucible to find out how she has handled the media and public attention that has surrounded her every move.

"I've enjoyed it - it's my 15 minutes of fame!" she told this website.

"I was surprised by how much attention there's been. I was expecting some, but it's been huge."

Tabb admits she found her history-making first match - when she took control of Mark King versus Drew Henry - a nervous affair.

"I was so tense before the game - the hanging around that was the worst part," she said.

The other referees treat me as one of the guys
Michaela Tabb

"I went in an hour before to set the table up and that's when it hit me. I couldn't quite believe I was putting balls on tables I'd only ever seen on television before."

But with the eyes of the crowd, the players and commentators, not to mention several million television viewers, trained on her performance, Tabb acquitted herself well - slight teething problems notwithstanding.

"The only worry I had was when Drew potted a pink and there was no spot to put it back on," said Tabb.

"There was just enough room to wheel the ball through the reds, but my hand was shaking so much that the ball was going all over the place!

"I could have done without that."

And when it came to a big foul and miss decision - always the main test of a referee's judgement - Tabb came up with a textbook interpretation.

"Drew was caught in a really tough snooker and he'd had three attempts to get out of it and I'd called a foul and a miss each time. His fourth attempt was so close I didn't call a miss.

"Mark didn't query it and I was so pleased when I heard the commentators thought it was exactly the right call."

And after six years as a nine-ball referee (she still represents Scotland as a player), the WSA came calling in 2001 and Tabb jumped at the chance to move into the new sport.

Shown the ropes by veteran referee and fellow Scot Lawrie Annandale, Tabb moved onto the main circuit, although the initial response from the fellow refs was not universally positive.

"Some were fantastic, some were OK and others were at least straight with me and told me they didn't agree with what had happened, but didn't blame me for taking the opportunity," she said.

"But now they do treat me as one of the guys - they keep forgetting not to swear in front of me!"

Tabb's final match of the tournament will be Matthew Stevens' game against Paul Hunter and she is looking forward to it with the eyes of the true snooker fan.

"It should be a cracking match. And I'll have the best seat in the house!"

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