Lisa Ashton hungry for ‘home win’ at darts’ historic Women’s World Matchplay​​​​​​​​​​​​​​ in Blackpool

Darts doyenne Lisa Ashton would love to provide this weekend's historic Betfred Women's World Matchplay in Blackpool with a 'home' winner from the North-West.

By Andy Moore
Friday, 22nd July 2022, 12:30 pm

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Sunday evening's men's final will be preceded that afternoon by the first accompanying women's event on the hallowed Winter Gardens oche, where eight of the world's leading players will take part.

It is the first fully-televised (by Sky Sports) women's tournament to be staged by the Professional Darts Corporation and Bolton's Ashton is the top seed.

Lisa Ashton has dominated this year's Women's Series

The 51-year-old told The Gazette: “It's a massive opportunity and a dream to play on home turf in Blackpool. I can't wait.

“It will be nice to have a home crowd with everyone behind me and not against me. That will lift me.

“You have to thrive on the atmosphere, take it all in and just get the crowd to help you.”

A British Darts Organisation world champion four times before joining the PDC in 2020, Ashton has also lifted the World Masters and World Darts Trophy three times and arrives at Blackpool in top form, having won seven titles this year to dominate the Women's Series.

The historic Blackpool breakthrough continues the explosion of women's darts, with a repeat tournament already announced for the World Matchplay next year, when an enlarged Women's Series of 24 events will carry £145,000 in prizemoney.

It's a “huge success story for women's darts,” says Ashton, who admits she never envisaged such grand growth of the game.

She added: “When Blackpool was announced it was a massive dream for all the ladies.

“It's a shame we didn't get this opportunity 10 years ago but it's great to have it now.

“If it isn't going well for any young player, keep at it because the opportunities are there and you can get to where I got to. Never give up and you'll get there one day.”

One rising young star is Scotland's Chloe O'Brien, who will be Ashton's quarter-final opponent at the Winter Gardens.

“Anything can happen because Chloe is a very good player, who has proved herself,” added Ashton.

“It's great that she has qualified and shown that youth is rising to the occasion.

“I'll just try my best but it would be brilliant to win this first title.”

What would be even better for Ashton would be more tournaments in which men and women compete against each other, like the Grand Slam of Darts.

She famously became the first woman for 16 years to win a match at the UK Open by defeating Aaron Beeney in 2021 with a world-record average of 100.3.

Ashton said: “The only way we'll improve is by playing the men. If we played all the tournaments against the men, that would be fine by me.”

Ashton also faced the fellas in this year's inaugural World Seniors Darts Championship.

“It's nice to know we aren't getting knocked to one side once we're over 50 and it's great to play against the people you've watched on TV,” she said.

“It's nice to complain about our aches and pains together.”

Betfred Women's World Matchplay draw (Sunday from 1pm): Lisa Ashton v Chloe O'Brien, Aileen de Graaf v Laura Turner, Fallon Sherrock v Katie Sheldon, Lorraine Winstanley v Rhian Griffiths.