Lisa Ashton is bidding to transfer her Women’s Series dominance to the Winter Gardens stage when she makes her Blackpool bow at the inaugural Betfred Women’s World Matchplay later this month.
The new £25,000 tournament will see the top eight players from the current PDC Women’s Series Order of Merit vying for glory on Sunday July 24, in the first fully-televised women’s event staged by the PDC.
Ashton has scooped seven Women’s Series titles in 2022 to establish a £2,300 lead at the top of the Order of Merit, and following a string of imperious displays, she heads to Blackpool as 5/4 favourite with title sponsor Betfred.
“I’m showing that there is no age barrier in darts,” said Ashton, who faces Scottish teenager Chloe O’Brien in her opener.
“I know I’m one of the older players on the circuit, but you just have to keep going, because even at my age, everything is possible.”
The 51-year-old has been at the forefront of the women’s game throughout the last decade, becoming the first female player to claim a PDC Tour Card at Qualifying School in January 2020.
Ashton defeated the likes of Michael Smith, Rob Cross, Dimitri Van den Bergh and Adrian Lewis during her two-year spell on the professional circuit, before recording the first televised ton-plus average by a woman at last year’s UK Open.
The Lancashire veteran is one of the sport’s original trailblazers, but the eight-player knockout event features four televised title winners, with Fallon Sherrock, Lorraine Winstanley and Aileen de Graaf also set to star.
The experienced duo of Laura Turner and Rhian Griffiths will make their first appearances in a PDC televised tournament, alongside talented youngsters O’Brien and Katie Sheldon.
“The standard is rising. It has always been me and Fallon, but it's not just us now,” Ashton admitted.
"The ladies are rising to the occasion and they are taking their opportunities. I’m just happy I keep pushing everybody as much as I can.”
The four-time Lakeside Champion has become accustomed to the PDC spotlight following three Alexandra Palace appearances, but the opportunity to grace the iconic Winter Gardens stage will mark a special moment for Bolton-born Ashton.
“I have always wanted to play at the Winter Gardens, so it’s absolutely fantastic. I’m hoping my home town get behind me," she added.
“The opportunities the PDC have given us are fantastic. It’s going to be absolutely amazing. I just can’t wait to get to Blackpool now.”
*You can read the full in-depth interview with Lisa Ashton in the 2022 Betfred World Matchplay programme. Costing just £5 + shipping, the programme can be pre-ordered now through Curtis Sport.
2022 Betfred Women's World Matchplay
Sunday July 24
(1) Lisa Ashton v (8) Chloe O’Brien
(4) Aileen de Graaf v (5) Laura Turner
(2) Fallon Sherrock v (7) Katie Sheldon
(3) Lorraine Winstanley v (6) Rhian Griffiths
Quarter-Finals - Best of seven legs
Semi-Finals - Best of nine legs
Final - Best of 11 legs