Partly Cloudy

Partly Cloudy

max temp: 11°C

min temp: 5°C

Search

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

PUBLISHED: 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.”

Award-winning comedian Jimmy Carr is returning to Felixstowe’s Spa Pavilion next month to perform the show he gave a sneak preview of a year ago.

A host of cigarettes were stolen during a break-in at a newsagents in Needham Market in the early hours of Friday morning.

This weekend sees the tapes go up on another season of speedway at Foxhall Stadium.

A restaurateur has been disqualified from driving for 18 months after being caught speeding 10 times within six weeks, including eight times on the Orwell Bridge.

Four people in Ipswich have been arrested on suspicion of Class A drugs offences after flats in town were raided today.

Police investigating the disappearance of Corrie McKeague are “clearly” missing “detective skills”, according to a former senior detective, but Suffolk police have hit back at the claims.

Ambulance crews have been held-up caring for patients at hospital emergency departments in Suffolk and Essex for more than five hours at a time.

The chief executive of national charity Mind has said leaders need to “turn rhetoric into reality” in order to truly bridge the gap between physical and mental health services.

The winner of the Great Pottery Throw Down says he has no intentions of becoming “super famous” – and just wants to carry on enjoying ceramics.

There have been calls for common sense over a series of partial road closures around Stowmarket, which are causing congestion on several main roads.

Most read

HOT JOBS

Show Job Lists

Topic pages

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter
MyDate24 MyPhotos24