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ITF make Fed Cup award to Elena Baltacha

Elena Baltacha was recognised by the International Tennis Federation yesterday, with the award of the Lifetime Fed Cup Heart Award, a small token of thanks for the late Scot's commitment to the Fed Cup and her effect on the sport.

Isabelle Wallace admits Baltacha had a big influence on her
Isabelle Wallace admits Baltacha had a big influence on her

It was an emotional occasion in the museum at Roland Garros, with Baltacha's husband, Nino Severino, and Judy Murray, the British Fed Cup captain and a close friend of the 30-year-old, among those in attendance. "In the last two-and-a-half years, I had the honour to be her Fed Cup captain," Murray said. "She was a role model to young players. She was an amazing competitor and had the heart of a lion."

The award, accompanied by a $10,000 donation to the Rally for Bally campaign, was recognition of Bal­tacha's unwavering support for the Fed Cup, in which she represented Britain 39 times.

Murray also singled out her impact on the young players and one of them, Isabelle Wallace, said yesterday that she carries words of advice from Baltacha as she progresses through the junior ranks.

Wallace was narrowly beaten yesterday in the third round of the girls' event but showed the kind of battling qualities that Baltacha so espoused and then revealed that she carries with her a piece of advice from the former British No.1.

"I hit with her on clay [last year] and lost 6-0, 6-0," said the 17-year-old. "She was such a good player; she was too good. When I was at the NTC [National Tennis Centre, in London] she was around a lot and after she beat me, she gave me a talk. A lot of the time when I practice, I lose focus and have bad training sessions. I remember that one time she gave me this talk about working hard and just being ready for everything because if I don't practice well, it's not going to go well in matches. That was really good. I'll always remember it."

Wallace, who moved back to Scotland last year after a brief time representing Australia, is now looking forward to Wimbledon. "I like the grass and I am left-handed, so that helps," she said. "I like the support and I hope [the grass] will be sliding and people will be struggling."

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