Tennis: Smith survives onlsaught from free-hitting Collin

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Sam Smith, the No 1 seed, survived a scare when she saved three break points in the final set to beat wild card entry Hannah Collin in a tense first-round match as the Guardian Direct British National Championships began at Telford yesterday.

Smith, who recently became the first British woman to reach the world's top 100 for three years, was on the verge of going 3-1 down in the decider before coming through 6-2, 0-6, 6-3 against the promising teenager. On one of the break points Collin had the whole court open and put a backhand volley into the net.

The quality of Collin's groundstrokes was nevertheless outstanding and in the middle part of the match she punished Smith with some great counter- hitting when the favourite tried to take more liberties in attack.

"She had everything to win and I had everything to lose. A lot of top seeds would have crumbled, but I didn't," Smith said.

The men's fifth seed, Martin Lee, did not escape, however. Last year's world junior No 1 went out 6-2, 7-6 in the first round to Tom Spinks, the British No 10.

Spinks, with a forehand and serve good enough to have taken Greg Rusedski the full distance here two years ago, suffered his only crisis early in the second set. However, the 22-year-old from Norfolk served an ace on break point in the second game and was never troubled on his delivery after that.