By Benjamin Lim (19S03I), Kwee Qiao Ying (19S03K), and Yoon Shwe Yee (19S03B)
Photos by Louise Tan (20S06D) and Miki Tan (20S03P) of Raffles Photographic Society
On 16th May, our Boys’ and Girls’ badminton teams headed towards Pasir Ris Sports Centre to fight for the Bronze and Gold medals respectively. With both teams playing against a long-time rival, Hwa Chong Institution (HCI), there was much anticipation for the final matches. To win, both teams would have to secure victory in three out of five consecutive games, each out of 21 points. The high score required to win made each game particularly long and intense, tiring out the players with each drawn-out battle.
The high stakes competition started off with a singles match, with Timothy Phang (19S03T) representing the institution. Raffles started off strong with a solid 7-17 lead, both players putting up a good fight with long intervals between scoring. Timothy was adept and quick on his feet, hitting the shuttlecock back with practiced ease, eventually winning the first match with 21 points against Hwa Chong.
Next, the first doubles match was kicked off by Gee Qi Hao (20S07B) and Edward Png Guo Jun (19S06I). They were adept at responding to their opponents’ every move, matching them point to point for the first few minutes of the match, resulting in a tie for the first five minutes of the game. Despite falling behind Hwa Chong in the later part of the game, they never faltered in their efforts. When the score reached 11-5 in favour of Hwa Chong with both teams in a deadlock, a break was announced and both teams huddled close together engaged in tense discussions. It was clear that much was at stake; yet, even in the stressful atmosphere, they still displayed camaraderie for their fellow teammates by giving each other encouraging pats. There was a light-hearted moment when one of the Hwa Chong players fell down in excitement, providing a bit of relief amongst the intensely competitive atmosphere. After the break, the Raffles duo soon caught up to Hwa Chong, eventually winning 21-17.
The subsequent second singles match pitted Nigel Yap Zhe Ming (20S06I) against Hwa Chong once again. He moved quickly and gracefully on the often slippery court, returning the opponent’s shots with light movements that contrasted against the heavier style adopted by Hwa Chong. Throughout the match, he smiled or pumped his fist in the air when he scored a point, clearly enjoying himself. He scored consistently, never letting the opponent get too far ahead, and his effort won him the match with a score of 21-14, clinching a win for Raffles.
The second doubles match featured Andy Hu Shuang (20A13A) and Keenan Tan Chuan Hean (19S07C), who showed great teamwork and dedication while playing. It was a fast-paced match with points racking up on both sides till both teams tied at 21-21, meaning that the match would go on until one team scored two consecutive points. Everyone watched the shuttlecock with bated breath to see which side it would land in. Emotions ran high, with one of the players on the sidelines throwing down his racket in frustration at one point. The riveting match ended with a conclusive score of 26-24 to Hwa Chong.
The next match certainly did not disappoint, with the strong performance by the entire Boys’ Team kept up till the third singles match, played by Bai Yun Xuan (20S06R). Winning this match would mean victory for the entire team—the stakes were high, and he most certainly knew it. Both sides showed great support for the players, taking turns to chant school cheers and waving their flags high in the air to show school pride. The match was well-fought out—whenever Yun Xuan’s opponent scored, he would be quick to retaliate and score another to match. Both schools were locked in a tie for much of the first half of the game, until Yun Xuan quickly gained a lead, starting with 15-9 to Raffles. His perseverance and consistency eventually won Raffles the second singles round, conclusively winning the whole singles competition for the institution.
The Boys’ Team had achieved commendable successes in both the Singles and Doubles Divisions. It was now up to the girls to bring complete victory to the institution.
Over at the next court, Ashley Lee (20S03N) kicked off the girls’ first match in a singles game against her Hwa Chong opponent. The two players were seemingly evenly matched, with each player taking turns to score, such that the point difference hardly strayed far from just one point. Indeed, it seemed that it could have been anyone’s game—until the 16-16 tie, when Ashley surged forward and won four consecutive rallies with a few agile returns at the corners of the court, leading to an eventual victory of 21-17. In the second set, Ashley once again pulled through after she received advice and words of encouragement from her coach during the mid-game interval break, triumphing 21-14.
Next, Beatrice Cheng (19S03T) and Ashley Lim (20S03L) were up in the first doubles game of the day. Quick and light on their feet, the two complemented each other’s playing style well and took the first game 21-14. Their second set was arguably the most intense one of the day, reaching a tie of 20-20 and bringing the entire Raffles Team to their feet to cheer their teammates on. Alas, the pair made an unfortunate mistake at a critical moment, and narrowly lost to Hwa Chong 21-23. Nonetheless, Beatrice and Ashley did not let the minor setback discourage them, and bounced back in the third set, securing a second win for the team with their spectacular victory of 21-9.
Representing the Girls’ Team in the next singles match was Arielle Koh (19S03D), who maintained a calm demeanour throughout her games; even when she won a point, she vocalised her joy with only a short and soft cry. Whenever she was a few points behind, she dauntlessly and steadily caught up. However, despite valiant efforts against her formidable opponent, Arielle lost the two sets 18-21 and 16-21 respectively.
The fourth game saw Melissa Chua (19S06K) and Sophia Loo (20S03M) in a doubles game against another pair from Hwa Chong. Although the latter pair fought their hardest, Raffles dominated the playing field and maintained the lead throughout the game, emerging victorious with a score of 21-12. In the second set, Melissa and Sophia displayed their flawless teamwork once more, consistently guarding and covering all sides of the court. After the last smash turned the score 21-8, the Girls’ Team rushed onto the court and enveloped the two players in a big group hug, celebrating and sharing their joy—Melissa and Sophia’s win had secured Raffles the Gold medal.
It was finally time for the last match of the day, where Nicole Ng (20A01D) faced off against her contender in an exciting game, consisting of just two sets. The shuttlecock was seen grazing the net a few times in nail-biting moments, and smashes were executed powerfully by both players. Yet Nicole was markedly more skilful than her opponent, taking the lead from the start and eventually defeating her by an impressive margin of 21-11. In the following set, her opponent slowly narrowed the score difference in resilient attempts to catch up, but was still no match for Nicole, who won 21-16.
After all the matches were concluded, the players shook hands with their Hwa Chong opponents. Some supporters were also seen congratulating their friends and batchmates on their resounding victories by hugging and taking pictures with them. Our Girls’ Team had successfully reclaimed the championship trophy and along with the Boys’ Team, brought honour to the institution.
Our Badminton Boys’ and Girls’ teams most certainly did the school proud by achieving commendable results. The Boys’ Team Captain, Timothy Phang said how “leading this team has been the most incredible journey for (him) here at Raffles and (he was) so glad to have achieved so much with (his teammates) over the last six years.” He also mentioned to his juniors to “keep working hard! Learn from our losses and bounce back stronger next year!”
The Girls’ Team Captain Melissa Chua also wanted to express her gratitude to her team: “Well done team! This season has not been smooth sailing for us but (she was) really thankful that (everyone) all pulled through the tough times together.” Melissa was also “truly proud of (everyone). It is (her) honour to be part of this team whom (she) knows will always be there for one another, no matter what happens.”
And with that, Raffles Press would like to congratulate both badminton teams on their remarkable achievements, and wishes them the very best in their competitions to come!
Boys’ Team Members
Captain: Timothy Phang Li Wern (19S03T)
Vice-Captain: Li Zheng Yu (19S06Q)
Edward Png Guo Jun (19S06I)
Keenan Tan Chun Hean (19S07C)
Andy Hu Shuang (20A13A)
Bai Yun Xuan (20S06R)
Gee Qi Hao (20S07B)
Nigel Yap Zhe Ming (20S06I)
Girls’ Team Members
Captain: Chua Pei En, Melissa (19S06K)
Vice Captain: Cheng Ming Shuen Beatrice (19S03T)
Koh Jin Ann, Arielle (19S03D)
Ashley Lee Shi Hui (20S03N)
Ashley Lim Zhi Yan (20S03L)
Loo Yi Xuan Sophia (20S03M)
Nicole Ng Gin Yi (20A01D)
Edit (5/6/19): An earlier version of the article inaccurately named the players in one of the photos, and was also missing two photos.