Another successful foundation charity awards event in 2018!
I can’t believe it's been a year since the end of year Elena Baltacha Foundation Awards, time flies so quickly! Last year, the awards fell on the worst day of weather in 2017, it was the weekend when we experienced a terrible snow storm that crippled the highway routes in and out of Ipswich, effecting the arrival of many of our guests. This year could literally have not been any different, dry, crisp winter temperature, with the blessing of an amazing sunny day!
The awards are going from strength to strength, with the categories this year opening up to tennis players across the region, with the Suffolk County Coach team selecting the nominees for each category. This year has been the most successful year ever for attendees, just short of 300, and we wanted to ensure that the arrival had a high level of impact! With this in mind we planned for some top of the range Audi cars to be displayed in front of the red carpet, all arranged by one of our sponsors for the evening, Drift Bridge Group Corporate, in association with Audi UK. As the awards grow, we are attracting more and more sponsors to the event, this year Barclays Bank joined our World Governing Body, also Sports Agents Black Diamond.
I’m very pleased to write that James Burridge, sports presenter from the BBC, had no weather stopping his journey in from London this year, and with such an incredible night ahead of us, it was only fitting that we had an incredibly talented host to seamlessly guide us through each phase of the awards.
The evening was full of stars from the sporting world, either attending personally or via video on the massive screens either side of the stage. It was simply amazing that Martyn and Leoni Waghorn kept their promise to me when leaving Ipswich this year, they said “Nino, we will be there, to support you at the awards”, they travelled all the way down from Derby. Also, from the footballing world we had Glen Collis from sports agents Black Diamond and Graham Dove from Safeguard who both support clients from the Premiership Football League. Also attending, was Nigel Ling, my very good friend and goal keeping coach from the Ipswich Town Football Academy team.
And from the world of tennis, Anne Keothavong The Great Britain Tennis Captain also attended, with Louis Cayer, one of the World’s best tennis coaches, and a member of the Great Britain World beating Davis Cup coaching team. And talking about globally recognised coaches, Andy Murray’s Father-In-Law, Nigel Sears, was also in attendance, if only via video from Thailand. He is currently there with top 20 WTA tennis player, Anette Kontaveit, preparing for the first Grand Slam of the Year in Melbourne in January. Nigel is an incredible foundation friend, and spent 5 hours driving in from Brighton to attend the awards last year, eventually turning back after the snow finally beat him.
There are many trophies, shields and cups awarded every year, and it always gives me so much joy seeing players going up
on stage to receive these awards. The Marque awards, going to the following players, The Serena and Venus Vase, awarded
to Verity Staines, The Judy Murray Award, to Saul Hindmarch, The Elena Baltacha Honorary French Open Cup to Alana Bristow,
the Yonex Trophy to Seth Newman, with the two 28” Staffordshire Silver Trophies going to Justice Hall and Izzy Eaton,
who both have represented Great Britain on the Junior Tennis International stage.As I mentioned above, our World Governing Body the WTA, were our main event sponsors, and as last year, as promised, they
sent video messages from all 8 of the worlds best tennis players who recorded messages at The End of Year WTA World Finals
in Singapore. We also showed videos of our British Number One, Jo Konta and the one and only serena Williams, who, with
her sister Venus, have donated a very special vase, that we award every year.
The Elena Baltacha Foundation works tirelessly to offer children from all backgrounds, the opportunity to join our wonderful sport of tennis, without our fantastic board of trustees and our unbelievable backroom staff, this simply would not be possible. I must just mention Aaron Garwood and Lindsay Farish-Carradice, who played such a major part in managing and organising our awards. And our devoted foundation Trustee, Steve Harding, who through his company Touchwood UK, generously sponsored all the trophies. It’s simply impossible to thank everyone, but as someone said to me, “you have some incredible people around you Nino”, and I do, people who are still devoted to my wife, and who help me continue to keep her legacy alive.