By Darren Wong (24S03C) and Low Jing Kai (24S03H)
All photographs courtesy of Raffles Photographic Society.
On 17 May, our Raffles Boys Badminton team took on Anglo-Chinese School (Independent) (ACS(I)) for the coveted title of first place for the National School Games A Division Boys Championship 2023. Having achieved first place the past five years, the boys were under pressure to perform this feat once again.
As the match supporters made their way to their seats, they excitedly buzzed and chattered amongst themselves. No doubt eager to witness the upcoming match, they filled the hall with excitement and anticipation.
Near the spectator stands, the coaches and some of the players were engaged in discussions on match strategy, while on the court, the other players were warming up alongside their competitors, the sounds of shuttlecocks flying filling the hall.
“The team trained really hard over the past week. They were competing on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, while training on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, so it was fairly intensive,” commented the teacher-in-charge of the badminton team, Mr Wong Chu Lin.
Before the commencement of the game, Mr Wong thanked the match supporters for coming and urged them to cheer hard for the team. Meanwhile, the players and coaches were exchanging words of encouragement, ending it off with a united shout of “Let’s Go!”.
1st Singles Game: Jorelle Yak (24S06C) vs Tan Jin Xu, Asher
Jorelle Yak and Asher Tan provided an energetic start to the match, their aggressive plays keeping each other on their toes. Jorelle managed to outpace his opponent, taking the lead, which he maintained to win the first set at a score of 21-16.
In the second set, Jorelle managed to overtake his opponent early on, while Asher managed a small comeback. But Jorelle, having tired his opponent out, stayed ahead to win the second set with a score of 21-12.
1st Doubles Game: Gabriel Chong Su Kan (23S06N) & Koh Zhan Li (23S06E) vs Benjamin Chiong & Randy Jordan Salam
Next up was the first doubles game, with Gabriel Chong and Kon Zhan Li representing RI. During the first set, Gabriel and Zhan Li engaged in a fast-paced match, working together to counter the shots made by their more aggressive opponents, but ultimately losing the first set at 17-21.
During the second set, Gabriel and Zhan Li displayed excellent teamwork, covering for each other’s blindspots and working together to take advantage of weaknesses in their opponents’ formation. However, their competitors also began to catch up, leading to both sides playing on high alert. It was close, but RI lost the second set at 19-21.
2nd Singles Game: Axel Toh (24S07A) vs Lee Jian Wen, James
Axel Toh represented RI for the second singles game. From the beginning, Axel displayed a calm demeanour, consistently making powerful shots against his opponent. This led to Axel overcoming his opponent with a multitude of well played shots, winning 21-7.
In the second set, Axel once again gained an early lead, but this time with increased difficulty as his opponent blitzed around the court. Despite this, Axel still managed to achieve victory with a score of 21-7, ending the second set with a stunning smash.
2nd Doubles Game: Matthew Toh (23S06E) & Gregory Lim (23S06T) vs Goi Wei & Joshua Tan
The second doubles game commenced with a cheer off from both the ACS and RI crowd as each hollered their rendition of the ‘North South East West’ cheer.
The players representing RI were Gregory Lim and Matthew Teo. Throughout the match, Gregory and Matthew constantly signalled at each other to make moves using their rackets, showcasing their teamwork in this fast-paced match. Unfortunately, Gregory and Matthew remained marginally behind and lost the first set at 18-21.
In the second set, the RI players gained the lead at first, outmanoeuvring their opponents.
Unfortunately, Gregory and Matthew started losing their momentum, allowing their opponents to catch up. Nearing the end, the match remained unbearably close, with both teams being 1 point away from winning, the score jumping from 19-20, 20-20, 21-20, 21-21 and finally 21-22.
After a long rally, the RI team lost the point as their shuttlecock was hit out of the court, ending the game with a loss.
3rd Singles Games: Yap Zhe Hong Nixon (23S06G) vs Lucas Chiu
With the overall score now tied and both teams 1 match away from victory, the pressure is on for RI’s last singles player, Nixon Yap.
Nixon confidently smashed his way to earn the first point, swiftly setting the tone for the match, maintaining his lead and keeping his composure, allowing him to close the match with an impressive lead of nine points.
The atmosphere in the crowd was electric, filled with a mix of excitement and nervousness as Nixon got ready for the second set. The second set was much more evenly matched, as ACS played more aggressively. Despite this, Nixon managed to keep a small lead, ending the interval at a score of 11-10.
At this critical point in the match, supporters from both schools put their all into their school cheers, with councillors from the RI side leading the school in a rousing “Take them on!” cheer.
Nixon took the lead from there, gaining a five-point lead and maintaining it. The score was now 20-14, and in a skillful display, Nixon forced his opponent to return a shot from the front of the court, causing him to hit the shuttle out of the court, and giving Nixon the last point he needed to win. The crowd erupted in cheers as the rest of the badminton team rushed in to congratulate him.
RI Clinched a Well-Earned Victory
Despite some setbacks, the boys’ team played well and managed to retain their champion title for the sixth year running.
“We expected the doubles pair to win, [but] unfortunately it did not go as planned and it was quite stressful as we had to go into a deciding game,” the team captain, Loh Yi Rui (23S06I) commented. “The training was really intensive but I am glad our efforts paid off.”
As the boys collected their medals, looks of satisfaction and exhilaration could be seen on their faces. They were, no doubt, ecstatic that their efforts had not gone to waste. The event ended with one final “Unite” cheer from RI players and match supporters.
Boys’ Badminton Team
Pratyush Madhaik (24S02B)
Tang Kit Weng Shearwin (24S03C)
Jorelle Yak Han Rui (24S06C)
Axel Toh (24S07A)
Matthew Toh Xuan Zhi (23S03E)
Kon Zhanli (23S06E)
Yap Zhe Hong Nixon (23S06G)
Loh Yi Rui (23S06I)
Gabriel Chong Su Kang (23S06N)
Gregory Lim (23S06T)
Jonah Lee Yong Jian (24S03D)