Overcast

Overcast

max temp: 14°C

min temp: 10°C

ESTD 1874 Search

The pigs are coming. Find out more about

Pigs Gone Wild

here.

Ipswich: Nine-year-old tennis prodigy vows to win Wimbledon for her hero Elena Baltacha

11:52 08 May 2014

Tennis prodigy Justice Hall, nine, pays tribute to her inspiration, Elena Baltacha, who trained her. She says she is determined to go to Wimbledon and win.

Tennis prodigy Justice Hall, nine, pays tribute to her inspiration, Elena Baltacha, who trained her. She says she is determined to go to Wimbledon and win.

An Ipswich tennis prodigy today spoke of her determination to become Wimbledon champion as she paid tribute to her “inspiring” tennis coach, Elena Baltacha.

Great Britain's Elena Baltacha.Great Britain's Elena Baltacha.

Youngster Justice Hall may still be a few years away from her dream of stepping out on to Centre Court, but after being ranked as the third best player in the country for her age group, it is certainly within her grasp.

And the nine-year-old, of Ipswich, says her success would not have been possible without ‘Bally’, who died on Sunday morning from liver cancer.

Elena saw Justice’s talent for the sport during an event at Piper’s Vale about three years ago and from that moment, she took a keen interest in the youngster’s training.

“She was an inspiration to me,” said Justice, who trains at Ipswich Sports Club.

“She taught me never to give up – she told me to fight if I was losing.

“I’ll never forget the advice that she gave me and the love that she gave me. If it wasn’t for her, I wouldn’t be playing tennis.”

Justice travelled with Elena for tennis tournaments and events at home and abroad, including a trip to Scotland where she met Wimbledon champion Andy Murray’s mum, Judy.

Reflecting on the last three years, it is clear Bally played a huge part in Justice’s life and she is now determined to repay the faith she showed in her.

“I want to work hard and play at Wimbledon and win,” she said.

In her 16-year tennis career, Elena won 11 singles titles and scaled the rankings to become one of the 50 best players in the world.

With husband and touring coach, Nino Severino, she established the Elena Baltacha Academy of Tennis, in order to take the game to all aspiring young players, a decision from which Justice has benefitted.

In January, Baltacha was diagnosed with liver cancer – two months after retiring from tennis.

She announced her diagnosis in March but lost her battle with the illness on Sunday morning, aged 30, surrounded by her friends and family.

Justice’s dad, Leon, said that through her work with youngsters like Justice, her work will be seen in years to come.

He added: “With her (Justice’s) spirit and the foundations that Elena has helped to lay, there is nothing to stop her going all the way.”

Tributes have continued to flood in for Elena, with Judy Murray describing her as “one in a million” and “an absolute gem”.

She said in a statement: “I don’t have the words to say what an incredible person Bally was, how loved she was or what an inspiration she will continue to be to everyone who met her.

“This is an awful loss for tennis, for all of us who knew and loved her but most of all for Nino and her family. My thoughts are, of course, with them.

“She was one in a million. An absolute gem.”

Suffolk fisherman Harry Simper

A young Suffolk fisherman has netted himself a national award.

The Sorcerer's Apprentice. Photo: David Tett

From half-term fun and open gardens to the Suffolk Show and air displays, there’s plenty to see and do in Suffolk during the school holidays.

John Popplewell with his 45lb stingray

A Clacton fisherman caught a “monster” stingray weighing nearly three and a half stone on an Essex beach this week – and filmed it all on his new GoPro.

Essex fire crews.

Firefighters attending a blaze in the basement of a Harwich home initially thought someone was trapped in the house.

A 1963 Ferrari 250 GTO outside Heveningham Hall. Picture: Cameron Maynard/Aperto Photos.

An 18th Century Suffolk mansion has announced plans to host a gathering of rare classic cars as part of celebrations marking the 20th anniversary of its annual country fair.

BBC's Springwatch has arrived in Minsmere Nature reserve for the third year.
Presenters Chris Packham and Michaela Strachan.

A new Springwatch star is likely to be born at RSPB Minsmere in the next three weeks to capture the hearts of millions of viewers in the same way that a hapless little fish did during last year’s immensely popular BBC nature showcase series.

Gina Long celebrating with the family on receiving her MBE

Three community heroes from Suffolk were honoured for their selfless work and made an MBE by Prince Charles.

Most read

Great Days Out

cover

Click here to view
the Great Days Out
supplement

View

Most commented

HOT JOBS

Show Job Lists

Streetlife

Newsletter Sign Up

Great British Life

Great British Life
MyDate24 MyPhotos24