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Martina Hingis and Matthew Cutler

Lilia

SCD professionals quit show

Ballroom professionals Matthew Cutler and Lilia Kopylova are to quit Strictly Come Dancing, the BBC has announced.

The pair were among the dancers asked to perform together in a professional troupe, rather than with celebrities, in a change of format for the show.

Cutler, who won with Alesha Dixon in 2007, is to concentrate on running his own dancing school and may choreograph some routines on the programme.

Kopylova's husband Darren Bennett will become a member of the new dance group.

'Excited'

Ian Waite, who partnered athlete Jade Johnson in the most recent series of the show, has also been confirmed as part of the professional troupe.

Four new recruits - one male and three female - will be announced as the new series approaches later this year.

Dancer Brian Fortuna announced in June that he would not return to the programme due to format changes.

At the time, other professionals said they had yet to come to a decision about their future.

Cutler said: "I've absolutely loved my time on Strictly, and now is a good time to focus on developing new areas of my career.

"I'm excited about having more time to commit to new projects and, of course, still having a hand in Strictly without all the training!"

Russian-born Kopylova, who won the 2005 series with cricketer Darren Gough, said she would miss working on the show, but was "looking forward to new opportunities ahead".

"Of course I will be there to support Darren and all of my fellow professionals," she added.

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Lilia

Matthew & Lilia quit Strictly

The line-up for Strictly Come Dancing’s professional dance troupe has been revealed today – and two of its biggest stars have announced they are leaving the show.

Lilia Kopylova and Matthew Cutler have both decided to quit their roles on the dance show, however neither have ruled out making some guest appearances in the future.

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Martina

Martina had 'Great Experience'

Former tennis champion Martina Hingis has become the first celebrity to be voted off the new series of BBC One's Strictly Come Dancing.

She was beaten in a dance-off by Crimewatch presenter Rav Wilding.

The Swiss star said: "It was a great experience, I learned so much. I wish it would continue but here we are."

Actor Ricky Groves, BBC sports reporter Chris Hollins, athlete Jade Johnson, boxer Joe Calzaghe and actresses Ali Bastian and Lynda Bellingham were safe.

Votes cast by the public were added to the judges' scores, leaving the two dance pairs with the lowest scores to fight for survival in the dance-off.

Judges Alesha Dixon and Craig Revel Horwood then voted to keep Hingis and her dance partner, Matthew Cutler - who partnered Dixon to victory in 2007 - but fellow judge Bruno Tonioli voted for Wilding.

The casting vote went to chief judge Len Goodman, who also backed Wilding and his dance partner Aliona Vilani.

Reacting to the decision, Hingis added: "Maybe I will come back for a few more lessons to London."

Next week's contestants in the seventh series of the show include former EastEnders actress Natalie Cassidy, Footballers' Wives stars Zoe Lucker and Laila Rouass and Jo Wood, the estranged wife of Rolling Stone Ronnie Wood.

The remaining four are former jockey Richard Dunwoody, Coronation Street actor Craig Kelly, ex-cricketer Phil Tufnell and Hollyoaks star Ricky Whittle.

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Martina

Martina Hingis is first out of Strictly

Tennis ace Martina Hingis has become the first casualty of Strictly Come Dancing 2009, after losing out to Rav Wilding in the dance-off.

The 28-year-old former Wimbledon champion, who partnered former series winner Matthew Cutler, almost won herself a place in the next round after both she and Crimewatch presenter Rav had reprised their Latin dances from Saturday's show.

Both Craig Revel Horwood and Alesha Dixon voted to save Hingis - but Bruno voted in favour of Rav and dance partner Aliona Vilani, leaving head judge Len Goodman with the casting vote.

He voted for Rav - and as his vote decides the result in the event of a tie, the presenter scraped through to the next round.

"It was a great experience, I learned so much," Hingis said afterwards. "I would have liked it to continue but there we are - maybe I can come back to London for some more lessons."

Saturday night's show saw the eight couples who performed a ballroom routine on Friday night returning to the dance floor with either a cha cha cha or a rumba.

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Martina Hingis and Matthew Cutler

Martina Hingis & Matthew Cutler

The Wimbledon-winning ”Swiss Miss” Martina Hingis was one of the most electrifying and successful female tennis players of modern times.

Named after the tennis legend Martina Navratilova she was always destined for greatness!

Known for her on-court finesse and off-the-court frankness, she spent over 200 weeks as World No. 1 and won a staggering five Grand Slam singles titles. Alongside her Wimbledon triumph, she also notched up 3 Australian wins and 1 US Open victory. Legions of fans also saw her victorious in the doubles circuit, winning nine Grand Slam women’s double’s titles.

Her big ambition is to dance like former Strictly champion Alesha Dixon. If choreography comes as quickly to her as dexterity on the courts did then she may just fulfil her goal!

Martina began playing tennis when she was two years old and entered her first tournament at the age of four. In 1993, 12-year-old Martina became the youngest player to win a Grand Slam junior title, the girls’ singles at the French Open. In 1994, she retained her French Open junior title, won the girls’ singles title at Wimbledon, and reached the final of the US Open.

She went on to dominate the women’s game from 1997 to 2001, winning a total of 43 WTA Tour singles titles and 37 WTA doubles titles.

In October 2002 she announced that she planned to take an indefinite break from tennis because of a recurring ligament injury in both her ankles. However, she embarked on a successful comeback in January 2006, finishing 6th in the world rankings. In November 2007 she announced her retirement, still plagued by health problems.

Why did you agree to take part in Strictly?

Well, I love watching dancing. It is a very hard skill to learn. Some of the other players on the tennis circuit have done other versions in different countries. Monica Seles competed in the US version and had a blast. She didn’t make it very far in the competition though. I hope to get further than she did!

The internet has been very useful to me as I’ve looked at all the different dances performed on lots of international versions of the show and that’s given me plenty to think about. It has helped with my education of what is in store for me!

I should be good with the training as I am used to working very hard for many hours to perfect my sport. Discipline is very important when training for tennis competitions and I think this will be the same when preparing for the Saturday dance.

I am really excited by this prospect of wearing many colourful and pretty costumes. I really cannot wait to begin!

Matthew Cutler

Matthew is 35 and is 6’2”. His professional dance partner is Nicole Cutler, with whom he dominated the amateur section, before turning professional and continuing their success. His speciality is Latin American.

Matthew was born in Chelmsford, Essex. His Mother used to compete in 'Old Time' competitions, and when he was eight she suggested that he might want to go along to dance classes. Matthew never looked back.

With Nicole, he went on to dominate the amateur section becoming World, European, UK, International Amateur Champions, 5 time British National Amateur Champions, and 5 times Closed UK Amateur Champions - to name but a few.

Matthew on Strictly

Matthew first took part in Strictly Come Dancing in Series 3, where he was partnered with 'My Family' actress Siobhan Hayes.

In Series 4 Matthew’s partner was Carol Smillie. The pair improved week after week and managed to survive the public vote until the ninth week.

Series 5 was Matthew’s best, winning the show with Alesha Dixon. “Winning Strictly Come Dancing was like a dream come true for me. Alesha was amazing, she had the rare balance of dedication, fun and talent. The whole experience was mad, exciting, exhausting - I loved it!”

Last year, Matthew danced with TV presenter Christine Bleakley. They left the competition in Show 11.

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