2009-08-11 Woman sues to get men to play her

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Nancy Griffin prefers to play tennis against men. And she often beats them in a men's league sponsored by the city of Raleigh.

Some men don't like playing Griffin.

Three years ago, league members voted to rescind a rule that penalized them for refusing to compete against her or anyone else. The change has kept her from taking on some of the league's top players. Men have invoked both their wives and God to avoid matches against her.

Now, Griffin has made her problems on the court a matter for a court. She is suing the city, alleging discrimination. She wants the penalty rule reinstated and the city to pay her $10,000 or more for emotional distress.

Griffin joined the men's ladder in 1999, hoping for keener competition. "I just signed up and played," she said. "Nobody tried to stop me."

She made it to the final eight tournament all nine times she played. Then, in 2003, she tried to sign up for the summer season. But city officials said women could no longer play on the men's ladder because a co-ed ladder had been created.

Griffin petitioned the city to let her back onto the men's ladder, gathering 300 signatures, including 20 from men on the ladder.

Raleigh tennis officials relented and let her play.

That winter, though, the excuses began.

"One said he had a jealous wife, and he couldn't play females," Griffin said. "Another said he heard I made people run too much."