Story courtesy of and Townsville Bulliten

But for the sake of a `normal’ life, the record-breaking Fire player said she had no option but to close the curtain on her WNBL career.

The Townsville co-captain made the shock announcement yesterday, citing a persistent knee injury behind her call to end her seven-year playing stint at the club.

Click here for Tania’s WNBL career stats.

While Baxter had been struggling with knee problems for the past few seasons, at just 26 years old, she had hoped to have a few more years left in her.

But a medical follow-up after a post-season arthroscopy left her with a decision to make.

Either Baxter could keep playing at the risk of ruining her knee or she could call time on her career to all but assure she was able to walk normally in later life.

In the end the decision made itself.

“It was a tough decision, heartbreaking, but it came down to a lifestyle choice after basketball because my knee was becoming too bad,” said Baxter.

“There was a lot of damage done already and basically playing would have done more damage, which would have meant a few more surgeries.

“Plus (after basketball) I would have had very bad arthritis and would not have been able to run around at all, but making this decision I might be able to at least run around and go for walks when I want.”

The shooting guard has been a stalwart of the Townsville line-up since joining the club in 2002 and quickly marked herself as one of the most popular players on the roster.

With a strong long-range shot, Baxter would bring the fans at SeaFM Stadium to their feet as she nailed one of her record 180 three-point shots for the Fire.

She will leave the club with a swag of other records under her belt too, including most games (131), most points (1269) and most assists with 285.

“I would have been happier to end it on my terms but the knee beat me,” said Baxter, who still requires two more operations.

“Townsville gave me a great opportunity to further my WNBL career so I have a lot to thank the club for.

“I was pretty devastated when I heard I had played 193 (career) games, just off the 200 but that’s OK.”

Townsville Basketball general manager Tony Wade said losing a player regarded so highly at the club would be hard.

Baxter said a career 100 per cent away from the court would be equally difficult to come to terms with.

“Just (because) I love the team side of it, playing with the girls and all that _ that will be the hardest part of it,” she said.

While Baxter, who will remain in Townsville, would not rule out a future in coaching, for the moment her involvement with basketball will be restricted to supporter.

“I will definitely be going out and watching the basketball and supporting the Fire, but it will just be on the sideline,” she said.

“It will be good to see the other side of it.”