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paul_masterton
Jul 25th, 2004, 06:04 PM
Crook relieved to give jury the slip
By Mark Hodgkinson
(Filed: 21/07/2004)



For the first time in the 109-year history of County Week, players can refresh themselves at a courtside Pimm's tent. And then there is what the programme terms "a major change"; rain-interrupted matches will no longer be carried forward a day. There was almost a revolutionary feel along the seafront esplanades of Eastbourne yesterday.

It seemed a neat fit, then, that one player here, a kind of activist for the women's game, has been making the Lawn Tennis Association distinctly uncomfortable. But Helen Crook, half of the Essex first pairing against Surrey, should not even be on court this week; she was meant to be spending it in a courtroom. Crook had been selected for jury service at Basildon Crown Court.

"It took a lot of persuasion to get out of it," Crook said. "The jury officer relented only when I told her that if she didn't let me play then Essex would be relegated."

Crook is the director of GB Tennis Girls, a non-profit making organisation who look after the interests of one fifth of the female professionals in this country. The organisation was set up out of frustration with the LTA's lack of progress. The LTA, who see her as a threat, were not pleased when she handed over a brochure stating that British women's tennis is in its worst state ever.

Crook, 32, retired from professional tennis after Wimbledon. It was only five years ago that she thought she was any good. "Too many players are rejected by the LTA before they have had a proper chance," Crook said. An LTA spokesman downplayed Crook's criticisms, claiming that they were "outdated".

"If you look around the courts at County Week, it's really sad," Crook said. "A number of the girls who were top juniors had a bad experience with tennis, quit, and don't even want to be involved in County Week. This week can really invigorate your love of tennis."

Go Helen you rule :D Shame Essex got relegated anyway though, lol. :rolleyes: at LTA dismissing her and :eek: that she looks after 1/5th of our girls! And :lol: at the very clever title