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Baltacha Upsets No. 1 Hradecka in Dow Corning Tennis Classic at Midland

Russian-Born No. 3 Seed Claims $15,200 Top Prize in $100,000 Event

February 14, 2010       Leave a Comment
By: Dave Rogers

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Elena Baltacha celebrates a hard-fought victory.

Now they're cheering in London, as well as in Midland.

Elena Baltacha, of Great Britain, upset No. 1 ranked Lucie Hradecka in the singles final at the $100,000 Dow Corning Tennis Classic today at Midland.

Scores in the center court struggle were 5-7, 6-2, 6-3 as Ms. Baltacha claimed the title and top prize money $15,200 and 140 ranking points on the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour.

The only set lost during the tournament by Ms. Baltacha was the first set of the finals. She is ranked the No. 1 player in Britain.

In the doubles final, Hradecka and Laura Granville, of Chicago, teamed to defeat Lilia Osterloh, of the U.S. and Anna Tatishvili, of Georgia, 7-6 (3), 3-6, 12-10 (tiebreaker).

The 22nd annual Dow Corning tourney attracted 32 players from 16 countries, more sponsors and more volunteers than ever before, proving Midland's designation at "America's Top Tennis Town." The tourney is the only pro event held in Michigan. Tourney Director is Mike Woody, also head pro and director of the host Midland Community Tennis Center.

Ms. Baltacha, 26, (born in Kiev, Ukraine), is ranked No. 83 in the world. To reach the finals at Midland, she defeated Severine Beltrame of France, Rebecca Marino of Canada and tourney sensation Marta Domachowska in a hard-fought semi-final, 4-6, 7-5, 6-3.

Defending Midland champ Ms. Hradecka overcame Valerie Tetreault of Canada, No. 5 seed Sofia Arvidsson of Sweden and two-time defending champ Laura Granville, of Chicago, 6-3, 7-6 (4) in the semis.

She advanced to the third round at the 2010 Australian Open before losing to world No. 2 Dinara Safina. Baltacha also reached the third round at the 2005 Australian Open and 2002 Wimbledon. She has amassed 11 career ITF circuit titles (seven singles).

Ms. Hradecka, 24, of the Czech Republic, was the top-ranked player in the tournament at No. 64 in the world. A fixture in the doubles Top 100 since 2005, she enjoyed her finest season in singles in 2009 after winning the Midland title.

Hradecka reached the final at the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour event in Strasbourg (France), advanced to the second round at the French Open and reached the final at tour-level Istanbul in Turkey. In 2008, she won six doubles titles, including two on the WTA Tour (Prague, Czech Republic, and Bad Gastein, Austria).

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Baltacha was born 14 August 1983 in Kiev, Ukraine. She comes from a sporting family: her father Sergei was a professional footballer, representing the USSR and playing in the United Kingdom with Ipswich Town, St Johnstone and Inverness Caledonian Thistle, and her mother Olga represented the USSR in both the pentathlon and heptathlon at the Olympic Games. Her brother Sergei played football for Scottish Football League team St Mirren of Paisley and for Millwall.

After arriving at Heathrow Airport on 13 January 1989, Elena moved to Ipswich where her father Sergei was to play football for the next year before moving to Scotland. The family lived in Perth where she grew up and spent her teenage years.

Currently living in Enfield, London, England, with her mother, she practices at the Hazelwood Lawn Tennis and Squash Club, in Winchmore Hill, North London. She is coached by Nino Severino, Nigel Sears and Simon Walsh and is part of a tennis academy set up at Hazelwood, aimed at grooming talented young players into future professionals.

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Dave Rogers

Dave Rogers is a former editorial writer for the Bay City Times and a widely read,
respected journalist/writer in and around Bay City.
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