Beltacha aiming for more success

TENNIS: Eighteen-year-old Elena Baltacha's battling run in the women's singles may have been ended by Russia's Elena Likhovtseva, but the new big hope for a British women's tennis revival has not put the lid on her 2002 Wimbledon cash pot yet.

TENNIS

Eighteen-year-old Elena Baltacha's battling run in the women's singles may have been ended by Russia's Elena Likhovtseva, but the new big hope for a British women's tennis revival has not put the lid on her 2002 Wimbledon cash pot yet.

Baltacha's haul from the championships so far stands at £20,950 – and it could grow even more as she is still involved in the mixed doubles with fellow-Brit Lee Childs.

The Kiev-born girl, daughter of former Ipswich Town player Sergei Baltacha, pocketed £17,000 from her singles exploits and £1,905 for a first-round doubles defeat with Lucie Ahl.

Now Baltacha and Childs are guaranteed £2,045 each for their progress in the mixed doubles in which they have reached the third round. They were 6-3 4-1 up in the second round when opponents Pavel Vizner, of the Czech Republic, and Roberta Vinci, of Italy, retired.

Victory in the third round, where they are still awaiting to discover who their opponents will be, would earn them at least a further £2,540 each.

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However Baltacha will swap the glamorous world of the Wimbledon show courts for the Felixstowe Challenger next week and her British backers are anxious not to let the quietly-spoken Scot rest on her laurels.

Keith Wooldridge, the manager of women's national training at the Lawn Tennis Association, said: "We know now Elena has the heart and the temperament for the big time and I've never known a girl who wants it more.

"Her serve is world-class already but the rest of her game is still raw. Elena knows that she's had a magic week but that now she faces a long hard slog."

Baltacha came closer to securing an unlikely place in the last 16 than her 6-4 7-6 scoreline against Elena Likhovtseva might suggest.

She was a break up in the second set, but the unforced errors which inevitably go hand in hand with such aggression caused her to lose her serve and ultimately her way in the tie-break.

Nevertheless after a breakthrough week in which she stunned 32nd seed Amanda Coetzer in the second round, Baltacha was entitled to shrug off any disappointment arising from her eventual defeat.

She said: "I'm going to go shopping and treat myself. I've had a brilliant week. I learned a lot and it has given me a boost for the future."

Baltacha's future is particularly rosy according to 1956 Wimbledon runner-up Angela Buxton.

Buxton, who was an interested courtside spectator, said: "I think Elena is refreshing and she is wonderful to watch."

"She is still a bit green and she has plenty to work on. But her head never goes down and her body language is good and that's what I like about her."

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