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Wednesday, May 16, 2007

'Michaela Tabb, the stunning TV referee...'


We interview Michaela Tabb, the stunning TV referee and the top pool player who's also competing in the Scottish Ladies Team at the worlds this year...

The Scotland Ladies Pool Team will boast one of the most well-known faces in the world of TV cue sports at the 2002 EUKPF World Championships in the Shetlands this year.

But fans needn't run for cover! Thankfully, Stephen Hendry will not be donning a skirt and a wig to bolster the title defence of reigning Ladies World Team Champions, the Scottish Ladies team.

The stunning Michaela Tabb, however, will again be chalking up for the national team she's represented with distinction for 11 years.

Michaela is, of course, the beautiful brunette who's got pool fans the world over tuning in as she officiates at the TV stages of various world eightball and nineball pool events.

She's a regular referee at the Mosconi Cup and the World Nineball Championships, which both have worldwide audiences – and she's also a mean wielder of the cue herself, with countless titles as a key member of the all-conquering Scottish Ladies Team as well as the winner of the 1997 UK Singles title and the 1998 European Ladies Championships in her own right.

And, bizarrely, her adventures in the world of the green baize occurred by a happy accident.

I first got involved in the game at the start of the Nineties when I used to go to a local pub where everyone else played pool. So I had a choice of either joining in or sitting on my own watching – so I picked up a cue and took my chances! Fortunately, there was a Scottish Ladies international who also used the pub and I used to play with her so my game started to rapidly improve. A year later I was invited to trial for the Scottish Ladies Team and I made my debut in 1992. I've more or less been a member of the team ever since and, although I don't have the potting game that a lot of the girls have, my tactical game is very sound and I can hold my own against most players. I pride myself on the fact that I am a tough competitor and won’t lie down in any game.
A few years after she joined the Scottish Ladies Team, Michaela met the man she married earlier this year – namely eightball legend Ross McInnes.

I actually thought he was an arrogant sod when I first saw him. But we've been together for eight and a half years now and we have a little boy called Morgan, who's five.
And it was her relationship with Ross that lead to her first TV refereeing job.

'Again it was something that happened quite by accident,' admits Michaela. 'Sky were holding a one-day nineball event in Scotland which featured the likes of Steve Davis and various people. Ross was also involved and he said if they needed someone to referee it then he knew someone who refereed a lot of nineball matches – namely me!'

So I got involved and I found it absolutely nerve-wracking when I refereed at that event. Then I went home and thought no more about it – until I got a telephone call and I was asked if I'd like to officiate at the Mosconi Cup. So that's how it all started really.

Since then, Michaela has become a regular face at many snooker, eightball and nineball events.

I'm actually an employee of World Snooker now and myself and three other young referees are being fast-tracked away from the main tour and the TV games so we can learn the ropes,' reveals Michaela. 'I think World Snooker are keen to pull the game forward by not making the players dress in such a stuffy way and also by introducing some younger faces as referees.

Essentially the game still looks very similar to how it would have appeared 100 years ago and I think World Snooker is very conscious of that. Snooker's the number-two most popular viewed sport in the UK and, although audience figures have not significantly dropped off, they are looking to the future and aiming to attract new viewers.

So my involvement and the involvement of the other three referees who are being fast-tracked are all part of that move. I also think they've taken a look at the very casual image of nineball and taken a lead from there in the way players are encouraged to play without bowties and the like.
Michaela admits that eightball may not be her number-one priority in life at the moment, but it will certainly take centre stage when she puts her Scotland waistcoat on and she and the rest of the team go to defend their world title in Shetland.

I would never class myself as one of the favourites for the ladies singles event or even one of the strongest players in the team, but I intend to keep my place and I will fight tooth and nail to ensure Scotland win the ladies world crown for a few years yet!

And, the way she keeps her cool in front of the TV cameras, who would bet against her on the eightball table?