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Nino Severino: Elena film premiere was emotional - but it made me so proud

PUBLISHED: 11:21 27 November 2019 | UPDATED: 11:21 27 November 2019

A new film has been made about the life and legacy of Ipswich tennis star Elena Baltacha Picture: JULIAN FINNEY

A new film has been made about the life and legacy of Ipswich tennis star Elena Baltacha Picture: JULIAN FINNEY

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In his column this week, Nino Severino talks about attending the premiere of a film about his late wife, Elena Baltacha, and her remarkable life.

Nino Severino was Elena's husband and coach and has been heavily involved in the film. Picture: PURPLETVNino Severino was Elena's husband and coach and has been heavily involved in the film. Picture: PURPLETV

My schedule this week has involved a very important trip up to Glasgow to attend the premiere of the film telling the story of my late wife, simply called "Elena Baltacha."

As you can imagine, it was a very emotional experience, but not at all in a negative or sad way, it was a celebration of a woman who lived an incredible life, which has affected so many people in so many different ways.

It was a chance for me to be part of a private group of individuals who travelled in from all over the UK to be part of this premiere at the Every Man Cinema in Glasgow.

I was very pleased to see David and Mona Sheepshanks attending, their history with the Baltacha family is a very important part of Elena's story, and David featured heavily in the film.

It's safe to say, if it was not for David, my life would not be what it is today. That thought sent my mind on an incredible journey, tracking back, and peeling the years away until it reached the moment in the film where David talked about his visit to Russia to negotiate the historic signing of world-class defender Sergei Baltacha from Dynamo Kiev.

If David and the Ipswich Town board did not take the decision to negotiate with the Russians, Sergei would have never arrived in Ipswich as the first Russian football player to find a footballing life in England.

Sergei would never have been sold to a Scottish club, Elena would never have fallen in love with tennis as part of Judy Murray's national tennis programme, and eventually find herself in London as a young tennis player sponsored by Stephen Marks, the owner of the French Connection clothing company.

As I navigated back through the years and thought about how Elena's and my life crossed paths, it was completely mind blowing - but we all have these life path experiences, I'm sure many of you reading also have some incredible stories!

Elena Baltacha was Britain's top female tennis player and played in the London 2012 Olympics. Picture: PA SPORTElena Baltacha was Britain's top female tennis player and played in the London 2012 Olympics. Picture: PA SPORT

In the cosmos of the universe of life, energies are moving around, stars are aligning which, in some incredible way puts individuals into a certain place, at a certain time, that changes everything!

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As Elena was happily training in London at the FCuk Tennis Academy, I was visiting Ipswich Sports Club to look at a fitness studio for training.

Funnily enough the daughter of the late Bobby Ferguson, ex-Town boss, had just left ISC as a strength and conditioning coach, which led to another twist in my life path.

I arrived at the studio with my Sports Performance Academy tracksuit and the head of tennis at the time, Rhys Hanger, spotted the logo on my chest, and asked me, "are you a conditioning coach?"

I said yes - and little did I know that this one little word would propel me into a life trajectory that would lead me to being an Olympic and Great Britain tennis coach.

Our conversation led to me joining the tennis team at ISC, which led to a conversation with someone who arranged for me to present at the world-famous La Manag Club in Spain.

At this very time, the 19-year-old British number one was also planning a training block in Spain, and yes, you've guessed it, at La Manga.

Elena Baltacha's legacy lives on in her foundation Picture: NINO SEVERINOElena Baltacha's legacy lives on in her foundation Picture: NINO SEVERINO

And this is where I set eyes on Elena for the first time, I never actually got to meet her, but her coaching staff liked my presentation, invited me to London to give a training session to the FCuk tennis players, and this led me to stay for six years.

For the first five years, I simply said good morning to Elena when she was back at the training base in-between flying around the world competing for Great Britain as our top ranked player.

Her tennis life then took a turn for the worse, her form dropped dramatically, and at a lunch we began talking and she asked for some nutritional advice - this conversation led me and Elena on a global tennis journey that would see me support her as a coach against some of the biggest names in tennis, including Maria Sharapova, at some of the biggest tennis arenas in the world.

Meeting David Sheepshanks and the whole Baltacha family again was a very special experience. It brought back to me all my memories and feelings, which filled me with emotions that are indescribable.

These emotions were all wrapped up in a feeling of immense pride as I watched Elena's life story unfold through the 90 minute long film - a film about a woman who lived a life, and left an energy and legacy that is positively changing the life-paths of thousands of young athletes today.

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