World Student Games: Surprise success for Smith: More British tennis joy, Tom Chesshyre reports from Buffalo

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The Independent Online
ALL those who love to berate British tennis would have had to eat their words this weekend at the World Student Games here.

In probably the best British individual performance to date, Samanatha Smith knocked out the top seed on her way to the quarter-finals of the women's singles. Her compatriot, Anne Simpkin, taking an easier route in the other half of the draw, also reached the last eight, setting up the rare possibility of an all-British final in an international tournament.

With on-court temperatures exceeding 100F, Smith yesterday triumphed 6-1, 7-6 over Yoo, of South Korea, in a match memorable for its tense backcourt rallies as well as a number of controversial line calls. Smith got the worst of the decisions, but was simply too good for the Korean who did not have the consistency to last the longer rallies.

A day earlier Smith, in the biggest surprise of the tournament, outplayed Rika Hiraki, of Japan, the No 1 seed and the No 75 in the world, 6-2, 7-6.

The 5ft 2in tall top seed could not keep up with the consistency and placing of Smith's ground strokes. To her credit, Smith kept her concentration when trailing 5-3 in the second.

Smith is not unfamiliar with success. Two years ago she was ranked in the world's top 200, at one point she was as highly ranked as 103rd.

She dropped out of professional sport in order to concentrate on her studies. She is now at Exeter University studying history and she intends to go on to take a law degree. 'I'd always really wanted to do a degree. With tennis going the way it was for me I decided to change direction.'

Britain came close to its first medal at the Games on Saturday when Joanne Deakins was just caught in the final strokes of the 200 metres backstroke by Yoko Koikawa, of Japan, to be denied bronze. Her finishing time was 2min 16.33sec.

At Erie Community College Britain's Helen Gorman knocked half a second off her personal best in the 100 metres breaststroke final with a time of 1.13.16, but she only finished in seventh place.

China beat Latvia 103-77 in the mens basketball event to win their group and end Britain's chances of reaching the final eight.

(Photograph omitted)

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