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Basford women on quest to break with tradition

TENNIS by Jackie Thorley

CITY and Suburban champions Basford are spearheading a crusade to allow women's teams to compete in the men's league. They are concerned their league will not survive in its current format and hope to persuade the men to throw them a lifeline. The City and Suburban women's section has struggled to attract entries in recent years and was only kept afloat by six sides last season. League and cup holders Basford claim it is time to break with tradition and are calling on officials to consider piloting a scheme to allow women to join the successful men's outfit.

Basford women's captain Karen Dobson said: "The men have the luxury of having some good competition in the Stoke-on-Trent area, but we are playing the same people year in, year out. "There is no movement because there are only just enough teams to fill one division and the league is not attracting teenagers or people in their twenties. "If we do not do something soon with the women's league, it is likely to disappear altogether." Basford will suggest placing women's sides into the lowest men's divisions, allowing them to work to their own level over two or three seasons. However, Dobson admits the men's readiness to embrace change could pose a problem. "The key is the men's willingness to try this," she said. "I can't speak for all the ladies, but I don't think we would have a problem getting them to support this idea. I think they would be open to change, and I also believe our suggestion could help attract more young players. "I'm not saying women ought to be playing alongside top men's teams such as Draycott, but I do think we could be an interesting challenge to some of the men in the lower divisions. We are quite capable of coping with a reasonable level of men's play."

Sentinel, 13 November 2007
Courtesy of The Sentinel News & Media

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