By Soh Ying Qi (18A01C), Adri Faris (18A13A) and Ianni Tan (18S03C)
Photos by Raffles Photographic Society
On the afternoon of 19th May 2017 at Toa Payoh Sports Hall, our Raffles Badminton team made the school proud once again by sweeping the highly-coveted titles of national champions of both the boys’ and girls’ Schools National ‘A’ Division for the second year running.
The competition was kicked off with a good fight from RI’s Rachel Tan Xi-Hui (18S07B), who was unfortunately no match for the River Valley High School (RVHS) contender in the first set, losing 21-7. However, she did not give up just then, and returned to the second set with a vengeance, beating RVHS 21-19 in a constant back-and-forth that echoed the high stakes of the finals. RVHS went on to take the next game 21-15, winning the match.
The second match opened with a strong performance from RI’s doubles team Lim Boon Wen (17S05A) and Kaelyn Kong (17S03Q), who defeated RVHS 21-11. In the set that followed, the pair trounced their opponents yet again with a score of 21-9, taking the match amidst spirited cheers from Rafflesians in the audience.
RI’s Natalie Ng (17S06Q) faced tough competition in the next match, losing to RVHS 21-19 twice in a row despite a valiant fight that kept spectators on the edge of their seats. However, doubles pair Tan Jeng Swan (18S06E) and Nicole Png (17S03I) quickly regained momentum for the team, winning 21-17 and 21-11 against their opponents.
With two matches won on both sides, the fifth and final match would decide the champion of this year’s finals. Singles player Hannah Tay (17S06H) gained a slight advantage, beating RVHS 21-18 in a determined bid to win. With just one more set needed to win the competition, the atmosphere grew tense as the players fought on. As the shuttlecock sailed back and forth between both courts in a battle fraught with anticipation, spectators clung to the edge of their seats, awaiting the pivotal moment of triumph. A decisive victory was secured when RI emerged victorious with 21-3, awarding RI the championship trophy.
When asked how she felt about the team’s performance, Hannah answered: “I feel very happy… it was unexpectedly smooth.” She also expressed gratitude towards several people in her life, saying, “I want to thank everyone who supported me, especially my team and my classmates and all my friends around me,” a sentiment that was surely shared by many of her teammates.
The first singles’ match started off with Chew Wei Loon (18S03D). Both Wei Loon and his ACS(I) counterpart, being equally proficient, were neck and neck. The crowd were holding their breaths in anticipation during the first set, when the score was at a nerve-wracking 20-20. As Wei Loon gained 2 more points over his opponent to win the match 22-20, our supporters immediately erupted into frenzied cheers.
The close score was not the only notable aspect of this match – at the end of the second set (21-10), the players, in a show of sportsmanship and respect for each other, gave each other a pat on their backs. Wei Loon then proceeded to do a quick dab before leaving the court as the victor.
Next up were Andy Kwek (17S07B) and Neo Wei Jie (18S06R). The game started off after a quick high-five between the players. Throughout the entire match, both Andy and Wei Jie displayed remarkable teamwork on the badminton court. Amidst a myriad of determined glances, encouraging nods and quick yet powerful badminton strokes, the duo dominated both sets (21-12, 21-12), earning yet another round of applause and cheers from the raving audience.
The second singles match started off with Everard Ong (17S03M) winning the first set (21-12). However, the tables were turned at the second set – the score had reversed (11-21). Despite his loss, Everard’s display of sheer determination and perseverance amidst fierce competition was truly commendable: in the third set, he pushed through to gain a solid 8 points in a row (from 6-14 to 14-14). He – both literally and figuratively – stood up after falling, and continued to put up a tough fight throughout the entire match. Even though he eventually lost the match 18-21, the crowd of supporters was still very much impressed by his fighting attitude.
In the second doubles match, Zachary Low (18S06N) and Amos Khan (18S03E) continued to put up a good fight against their opponents. Although they lost the first set to their ACS(I) opponents (15-21), they managed to come back stronger for the second set, narrowing the gap to 18-21. The way both players communicated with each other on the court amidst fierce competition and showcased strong determination through their excellent teamwork clearly highlighted their tremendous skill in the sport. It was heartwarming to see how they continued to persevere throughout the entire match while the supporters continued to roar for them.
Last but certainly not least was Suyash Chand (18S06F). This highly important match was crucial in deciding which school would bring home the highly-coveted championship trophy. The crowd watched with immense anticipation, and in a particularly heartwarming moment, the RI supporters ever-so-spontaneously slipped his name into a cheer. Suyash breezed through with a 21-11, 21-13 victory against his ACS(I) counterpart. The cheers only grew louder when Suyash emerged as the victor, with the team running onto court to embrace each other in a team hug.
Overall, the boys, through their hard work and perseverance, successfully claimed the title of champions once again. As team captain Everard Ong said, “All of us gave our best. All of our trainings and hard work behind the scenes were really put in display in today’s victory.”
The afternoon of gruelling, intense matches finally came to an end as the players accepted their crowns and came together to sing the Institution Anthem. Sng Ding’s (18A01C) comment aptly summarises the entire experience in Toa Payoh Sports Hall that afternoon: “The calmness that they showed despite the harsh opposition was befitting of champions.”
Raffles Press would like to congratulate the Badminton team on their well-deserved victory and wish them all the best for their future endeavours.
Rachel Tan Xi-Hui (18S07B)
Lim Boon Wen (17S05A) and Kaelyn Kong (17S03Q)
Natalie Ng (17S06Q)
Tan Jeng Swan (18S06E) and Nicole Png (17S03I)
Hannah Tay (17S06H)
Chew Wei Loon (18S03D)
Andy Kwek (17S07B) and Neo Wei Jie (18S06R)
Everard Ong (17S03M)
Zachary Low (18S06N) and Amos Khan (18S03E)
Suyash Chand (18S06F)