Britain’s number one and world number 63 Elena Baltacha has not had the best of weekends.
Being a part of the Fed Cup team who lost their World Group II playoff’s to Sweden, team GB are now back in the same group that they fought so hard to get out of in February earlier this year.
It’s fair to say that the feeling amongst Britain’s women tennis players is currently of disappointment, but ever positive and looking ahead to such an exciting year for sport in this country, Elena is optimistic and enthusiastic about the future.
We caught up with her for five minutes to talk feet, food and the French Open…
How do you feel about last weekend’s Fed Cup result?
Obviously very disappointed that we didn’t beat Sweden, and disappointed that we are back in the same group – after all that hard work we are back there which is so unfortunate because we did so well to finally get ourselves out of it.
It’s such a difficult group to get out of as well. So it’s very disappointing but we had great team spirit, we gave everything that we possibly could have, and it’s just unfortunate.
But I know we’ve got such a great team, we’ve proven that we can get out of that group so I don’t see why we cant do that next time.
You’re currently recovering from a foot injury – how’s that holding up at the moment?
I’m working really hard on it to keep it under control. Luckily it was fine last week. I was able to train properly twice a day for the whole week and then obviously compete so it wasn’t giving me any problems.
I’m hoping to maintain it at that and then it won’t give me any more problems going forward in to the tournaments that I want to do.
It is a nightmare having to constantly stop and start all the time and lose the momentum of playing, so fingers crossed.
You’ve recently changed your eating habits to a gluten and lactose free diet, why is that?
It came about in pre-season last November from a sports scientist that I’ve been working with for the last few years. I actually have a liver condition [primary sclerosing cholangitis] that I have had from birth, but actually only found out about at the age of 18.
I said to my sports scientist that there has got to be certain foods and maybe drinks that I should be avoiding that would help. He looked into my condition and came back and said he thinks I should try switching to a gluten and lactose free diet.
What affects have you seen?
I have been doing it since the end of October and what really surprised me was that actually a lot of tennis players have tried it and really struggled in terms of a lack of energy.
But I never experienced that. Within two weeks I felt so much better and literally haven’t looked back since. I haven’t had any problems and have never felt better.
The clay court season is just around the corner, how are your preparing for the French Open?
I’ve got four tournaments on clay prior to the Grand Slam to help me prepare – Lisbon, Nice, Prague, Strasbourg and then Paris.
And then of course it’s Wimbledon, followed by the Olympics – what is the main focus for you this year?
The main goal is the Olympics. Myself and my coach have been talking about it for the last three years now, its really what the year is about for me – I really want to make the crack.
Obviously the French Open and Wimbledon are just as important, but it will be very special to compete at London 2012.
With tennis, how’s the qualifying done for the Games?
It’s about the rankings. At the moment you have to be in the top 64 in the world and the cut off for that is the Monday following the French Open.
There is only a small period of time between the French Open then Wimbledon (three weeks) and then the Olympics (three weeks). Do you think this will have an affect in terms of having to play your best tennis for such a long period of time?
No not at all, I think as tennis players, we’re so used to packing our bags, playing tournament after tournament, back to back.
When you’ve played four or five tournaments in a row you do try and have a couple of weeks off, but I don’t mean completely off, we just keep practicing and working on our game.
What would it mean to you to compete for Great Britain, at home, at the Olympics?
You can’t even describe it, it would be unbelievable. To have an Olympics at home is one thing, but to compete for Great Britain alongside the most elite athletes in the world will just be amazing.
Lizzie Flint, Sportsister
The Women’s Sports Magazine
Photo credit: Christine Walsh/The Emilia Group
Elena Baltacha is a Yonex Brand Ambassador www.yonex.co.uk/Tennis/