Holding the Court: Badminton Finals 2015

by: Adelyn Tan (16A01E), Choo Shuen Ming (16A01E) and Huang Jiawen (16S06G)
Photos by Hee Xin Wei (15S03I) and Chang Po Chun (16S03K)

20th May saw our Badminton Girls playing their finals against NYJC for a shot at 2nd runners’ up, and our Badminton Boys going toe-to-toe against AC in a bid to earn the championship title for this season. With four matches going on at once, the atmosphere in Toa Payoh Sports Hall was tense, with a strong show of support from spectators looking forward to intense performances from both the Girls and Boys’ teams.

Badminton is a deceptively simple sport, requiring players to win rallies so as to score points; when a player wins a rally and scores a point, they then serve again from the alternate service court. The side that first scores 21 points, or 2 more points than their opponent in the event of a deuce, wins a game and wins the match once they win three games.

Wei Yee (16S03K) represented the RI Badminton Girls in their first match of the day. One would expect the very first player of the day stepping up to the court to suffer from bouts of nervousness, but Wei Yee was confident in her strokes, maintaining a comfortable lead throughout the game. Not long after the match had started, she managed to secure a win for RI, boosting the morale of the team and their supporters, setting the mood for the next game.

In the doubles, we had Kelly Tan (15S07B) and Charissa Wong (15S03G) in the first doubles, and Charis Chan (16S07A) and Elizabeth Yaw (16S06C) in the second. The coordination within each pair was seamless, enabling the RI girls to maintain strong lines of defense while directing their attacks at the blind spots in their opponents’ line of defense. Keeping up a steady momentum, both pairs sailed smoothly to victory with scores of 21 – 09, 21 -11 for the last games of the 1st and 2nd doubles matches respectively.

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Chin Wei Yee (16S03K)

Particularly intense was the RI badminton girls’ 2nd singles match of the day, the follow-up game to two winning streaks, played by Chung Shiqi (16S06O). A seasoned and experienced badminton player, Shiqi had a powerful smash that she often used to her advantage. After dashing to the front of the net for the shuttlecock and sending it flying to the end of the court opposite to where her opponent was positioned, she won the first game with a clean score of 21-13. At the beginning of the second game, while Shiqi initially had a lead, her adversary soon began to catch up. The crowd watched with bated breath as the match turned into a battle of wits, skill and strength with many impressive moves made on the part of both players. Despite facing intense pressure, Shiqi kept up the pace, edging her opponent out point by point. Finally pulling away from her opponent towards the 20-point mark, she ended the game with a decisive hard slam, securing the 3rd match for RI girls’ team with a score of 22-20. All the players held their own with impressive footwork and technique, never faltering under pressure and showing remarkable teamwork when playing doubles, clinching their well-deserved third place title for RI.

Likewise, the Badminton Boys fought the good fight, keeping their opponents on their toes at every turn. Their first two games were closely matched — with supporters cheering them on all the way, the players put in all their effort and never once gave up or allowed frustration to get the better of them. Our boys fought hard till the very end, leaving the court with their heads held high despite their losses in the first two games.

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Qi Xueqian (16S06F).

RI proceeded to turn up the heat in the next two games, beginning with the 2nd Singles game played by Chin An (15S07A) who kept the game all over the court, consistently keeping the pressure up. He made several drop shots, clearly outmatched his opponent with his skilful net play, and won the RI Boys’ team its first game of the afternoon with impressive scores of 21-8 and 21-3.

The strong play was sustained through the 2nd Doubles, with Li Zhengxi (15S06B) and Jackie Tan (15S03C) showing commendable coordination, keeping it point for point with AC from the very beginning. With three points scored by AC within the span of a minute early in the game, the tension in the hall was palpable, only heightened by AC equalizing with RI at the 14th point. A neck-and-neck game right from the very start, both pairs made many comebacks, keeping the scoreline extremely tight. With capable players on both sides, there was a great deal of skill on display, with the point gap steadily narrowing and culminating in an intense last bout. Despite the pressure, both players kept their cool, worked together, and pushed through to win their second game. (21-19, 21-19)

With the score at 2-2, it all came down to the final game between Daryl Ng (15S06S) and Ronald Yeo of AC. Arguably the most breathtaking game of the afternoon, the final Boys’ singles saw a huge variety of lobs, smashes and drop shots traded all over the court, with Daryl containing Ronald impressively well in the first set (21-11). The second set followed with both players keeping each other on their toes, the point gap closing rapidly as the minutes passed, equalizing at the 14th point. A series of deuces ensued with scores keeping both sides on knife-edge as an epic exchange ended the set, only ending when AC took a victory 24-22.

It was down to the final set to determine if RI would win the championship title. It was one which saw RI not get off to a good start, with a 1-4 scoreline in AC’s favour during the first few minutes. At this point, Daryl put down his racquet, took a bit of a walk on the court, took a drink, and then came back in every sense of the phrase. Within moments, it was evident that his form was much more on point, with a series of smashes that led to a 6-6 equalizing comeback. A few more rallies brought us to a scoreline of 8-9, and a realization that this RI-AC match was the only match in the entirety of the hall which was still on. A long rally between the players saw total silence from all within the four walls of the sports hall. A kind of magic hung in the air, as everyone watched a stunning display of agility and grace, spellbound, and the only sounds were those of the skids and hits as they played – a stark contrast to the how the RI supporters erupted in thunderous cheers when Daryl scored to equalize after that particularly intense rally. The spectators held their breath when the scoreline reached 20-14, and a final quick smash brought RI to a score of 21-14 and the championship title for the Badminton Boys

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Captain Daryl Ng (15S06S).

“We really wanted this. We wanted to make it count,” as quoted by Kelly, the Girls’ captain. The afternoon truly was a triumphant battle of wits, endurance and strength from both the Boys and Girls’ teams. Perhaps best summed up by Vice Captain Zhengxi: “We came here. We did our job. Job well done.” Indeed it was. From us here at Raffles Press, well done, Badminton teams! Our sincere well – wishes for all future competitions following an incredible season this year.

“Raffles is golden, witness the moment.” – Daryl Ng, Boys’ Captain (15S06S)

Raffles Badminton 2015:
Boys: Daryl Ng (15S06S), Li Zhengxi (15S06B), Eng Chin An (15S07A), Jackie Tan (15S03C), Nigel Siew (15S97B), Ong Xing Xiang (16S06N), Zhu Bolin (16S03F), Neo Wei Ren (16S03M), Qi Xueqian (16S06F), Deo Teo (16S03S)

Girls: Kelly Tan (15S07B), Lee Shu Zhen (15A03A), Charissa Wong (15S03G0, Chin Wei Yee (16S03K), Charis Chan (16S07A), Elisabeth Yaw (16S06C), Goh Jia Ling (16S06S), Agnes Tan (16S06N), Zuo Hao Lin (16S03N)

Finals Lineup:
Boys:
1st singles: Zhu Bolin
1st doubles: Deo Teo & Qi Xueqian
2nd singles: Eng Chin An
2nd doubles: Li Zhengxi & Jackie Tan
3rd singles: Daryl Ng

Girls:
1st singles: Chin Wei Yee
1st doubles: Kelly Tan & Charissa Wong
2nd singles: Chung Shiqi
2nd doubles: Charis Chan & Elizabeth Yaw
3rd singles: Lee Shu Zhen

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