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Ipswich Town players grab a tennis racket to celebrate club’s partnership with Elena Baltacha foundation

PUBLISHED: 17:08 22 February 2018 | UPDATED: 09:45 23 February 2018

Luke Hyam, Leoni and Martyn Waghorn.  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Luke Hyam, Leoni and Martyn Waghorn. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

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Ipswich Town players Martyn Waghorn and Luke Hyam swapped the pitch for the tennis court yesterday to celebrate the club’s new partnership with the Elena Baltacha Foundation.

Luke Hyam taking part in the training session.  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN Luke Hyam taking part in the training session. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

The Town stars paid a visit to children at Sidegate Community Primary School, playing a few games with the enthusiastic youngsters.

And it was a extra special occasion for Luke, who went to the school himself as a child.

Kids at Sidegate Primary School enjoyed a fun packed afternoon with the Elena Baltacha  Foundation.  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN Kids at Sidegate Primary School enjoyed a fun packed afternoon with the Elena Baltacha Foundation. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Nino Severino, Elena Baltacha’s husband and chairman of the foundation, said it was great experience for the children

“The event was an Elena Baltacha Foundation Roadshow where we promote tennis through the local schools,” he said.

Kids at Sidegate Primary School enjoyed a fun packed afternoon with the Elena Baltacha  Foundation.  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN Kids at Sidegate Primary School enjoyed a fun packed afternoon with the Elena Baltacha Foundation. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

“It was also an opportunity to celebrate our new relationship between Ipswich Town Football Club and the foundation.

“To celebrate we had Martyn Waghorn there and his lovely wife Leoni and Luke Hyam which was nice because it is was his old primary school.

Martyn Waghorn having a go in the tennis session.  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN Martyn Waghorn having a go in the tennis session. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

“It was a great experience for the children.”

The club and the Baltacha family have a rich history together.

Martyn Waghorn having a go in the tennis session.  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN Martyn Waghorn having a go in the tennis session. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Elena’s father Sergei signed for the club in 1988, becoming the first player from the Soviet Union to play in the English football league.

Ipswich become Elena’s home and she went on to become the long-term British tennis number one.

Kids at Sidegate Primary School enjoyed a fun packed afternoon with the Elena Baltacha  Foundation.  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN Kids at Sidegate Primary School enjoyed a fun packed afternoon with the Elena Baltacha Foundation. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

She passed away on May 2014.

Mr Severino said his wife’s energy carries on through the foundation’s work.

Kids at Sidegate Primary School enjoyed a fun packed afternoon with the Elena Baltacha  Foundation.  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN Kids at Sidegate Primary School enjoyed a fun packed afternoon with the Elena Baltacha Foundation. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

He said: “Hopefully the children will fall in love with tennis and take it up on a recreational level.

“They may even place themselves in the running to be a tennis player of the future.

Luke Hyam taking part in the training session.  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN Luke Hyam taking part in the training session. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

“The foundation is eager to help children to have a healthy lifestyle through sport.

“It always has been.

Kids at Sidegate Primary School enjoyed a fun packed afternoon with the Elena Baltacha  Foundation.  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN Kids at Sidegate Primary School enjoyed a fun packed afternoon with the Elena Baltacha Foundation. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

“Of course for us it is also about keeping my wife’s memory alive and to remember what a wonderful lady she was.

“Through this personal tragedy we find lots and lots of children smiling and individuals like the Waghorns becoming part of our foundation family.

Luke Hyam and Martyn Waghorn.  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN Luke Hyam and Martyn Waghorn. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

“Elena’s energy carries on.

“If course it was a tragedy, a horrible thing to happen, but she left us all with so much.”

Martyn Waghorn.  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN Martyn Waghorn. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

For more information about the Elena Baltacha Foundation visit www.elenabaltachafoundation.org

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