By Rachel Lee (19A01D) and Zi Yang (19A01D)
Photograph courtesy of Raffles Tennis
The morning of 9th May started off with a dull thud: the sound of balls striking the sturdy frames of tennis rackets as the 2018 National A Division Boys’ and Girls’ Tennis Championships approached their concluding matches.
The finals saw the girls playing against Anglo-Chinese Junior College and the boys playing against Anglo-Chinese School (Independent), ending in a spectacular 4-1 victory for the girls, and a 3-2 defeat for the boys. Along with Hwa Chong Institution, these schools have been long-time rivals in the A Division tennis arena.
The distinctive playing style of each school was apparent from their matches. While Raffles preferred an aggressive playing style with sharp and hard shots at their opponents across the court, AC opted for a more defensive stance that was characterised by lob balls, particularly outstanding in the girls’ team. This strategy of favouring aggressive plays ended up working largely to their advantage, allowing the RI girls to dominate their matches, commanding a strong presence on the courts with their intimidating stature.
On the boys’ side, a strong, almost belligerent and fast playing style was favoured. Numerous triumphant shouts would cut through the air with every point scored by a player. The strength and passion with which the boys on both sides played was a testament to their dedication to the sport. Similarly to the girls’ matches, the excitement in the air was palpable as the boys served and returned impossibly fast shots as if they were swiping at air. Indeed, the matches were riveting both for the players and the spectators.
The most evenly-matched and exciting game of the day turned out to be the girls’ 1st doubles, with Shirina Mulani, 18A03A, and Laura Chan, 18A13A, six-year partners on the court up against ACJC duo: Natasha Loh and Chelsea Wee. The game was the only one that day which advanced into the third set, and was an arduous fight that saw a hard-earned victory for the Raffles pair. The excitement of the audience was well evident from the way the majority of the huge Raffles-AC crowd comprised of parents and schoolmates flocked to their court, peering through the bars to watch and spur their peers on with loud school cheers. As the day wound to an end, the split victory between Raffles and AC witnessed smiles on both sides of the courts, regardless of the final result.
Typically, tennis is a sport that does not see many newcomers, especially as late as the A Division. Many players were introduced to the sport from young, some even at merely three years old, and the players at the Kallang Tennis Stadium were no exception. The fierce fight put up by the Raffles Tennis players was testament to their phenomenal skill and prowess, built up over years of experience and burning passion for the sport.
Of course, as any competitor would tell you, victory does not come with pure talent; tennis is no exception. Tactics can only get you so far, and even more rides on the performance of the athlete in the day itself, rather than planning for the game. So, for those unacquainted with jock culture, Mr Weber Oh, coach of the tennis team, made some brief comments on the training regimen of our tennis players.
‘Tennis is only 5% tactics, so you work on the physical and the mental.’
— Mr Weber Oh, Raffles Tennis girls’ coach
The team coach, Mr Weber Oh, shared that their training largely focuses on physical as well as mental training. Tennis matches can last anywhere from between two to three hours, so training the stamina of the players is especially important, and can be especially challenging at times. For example, athletes were expected to complete five one-round sprints in under a minute.
The mental training of the athletes is important as well; as expressed by the coach, it can be extremely nerve-wrecking for an athlete to perform at inter-school tournaments with expectations of their schoolmates riding on their backs. To ensure that they are able to perform to the best of their ability, the coach recommends methods for calming them down, such as encouragement audios to allay the athletes’ fears. Of course, for the players who have been competing since young, years of experience and experimentation have allowed them to find their own way of calming down
With all that being said, apart from the players’ doubtlessly exceptional skill, the sheer amount of effort was clearly evident from how each player gave their all even after the championship was officially in the bag. It is unmistakable that tennis is a sport of endeavour; without the drive and intense and laborious training, you will get nowhere, best expressed by the iconic quote ‘Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration’ (or in this case, 1% talent and 99% hard training!). On this note, Raffles Press would like to congratulate the respective teams for their achievements, and wish them luck in upcoming competitions!
Boys: 1st Runner-Up
Score by Match: ACS(I) 3 – RI 2
Robin Cheng [ACS(I)] d. Sean Yun (RI)
Paul Michel (RI) d. Tiah Jeng Ern [ACS(I)]
Clarence Lee/Aveek Goswami (RI) d. Ito Tetsushi/Euan Koh [ACS(I)]
Shawn Ng/Oliver Loo [ACS(I)] d. Park Jung Woo/Amos Koh (RI)
Justin Oeni [ACS(I)] d. Jonathan Teo
Score by Match: ACJC 1 – RI 4
Elizabeth Lee (ACJC) d. Tamara Tan (RI)
Jeovanne P. (RI) d. Natalie Tan
Shirina Mulani/Laura Chan (RI) d. Natasha Loh/Chelsea Wee (ACJC)
6–3, 6–7 (3), 7–5
Meg Ang/Sin Suwen (RI) d. Sarah Teoh/Violet Lee (ACJC)
Tammy Tan (RI) d. Nadine Loh