By Cao Yuhan (24S03M) and Chia Kei Yin (24S03C)
All photographs courtesy of Raffles Photographic Society.
“The team spirit was finally here, and it was the strongest I’d ever seen.”Ling Shi Hui Alicia (23S02A), vice captain of Raffles Badminton Girls’ Team
On 17 May, Raffles Badminton (Girls) went head-to-head with Hwa Chong Institution (HCI) in a battle for the National School Games (NSG) A Division Championship.
Determined to maintain their five-year win streak, the team carried the pressure of their seniors’ legacy on their shoulders. The stakes were high for the defending champions, but their confident, composed demeanour revealed none of the fear and anxiety they must have faced.
The green, black and white attire of the RI shuttlers and supporters stood in stark contrast to the fiery red and yellow of Hwa Chong supporters on the other side of the court, representative of the tension between the long-time opponents.
1st Match: Tan Shi Bin (23S06D) vs Arin Kesuma Herbert
After several warm-up rounds, the games got off to a smashing start. Tan Shi Bin (23S06D) set RI on the right track after she won both sets of the first singles match by a score of 21-18 and 21-12 respectively.
Shi Bin remained on the offence throughout the match, coolly commanding the court with a skillful combination of smashes and drops. Each time her opponent managed to seize a lead, Shi Bin immediately ramped up her attacks as well, recovering from her losses with quick, powerful smashes that earned her the victory.
Having won the first singles match in the previous year’s NSG as well, Shi Bin’s win was no surprise, but no less impressive for it.
2nd Match: Chloe Chan Ying Xuan (23S06T) and Chloe Liew Huey Qi (23S03J) vs Lim Jia Yi, Chloe and Tan Wen Shin
Next up was the first doubles match, where Chloe Chan (23S06T) and Chloe Liew (23S03J)’s extensive training (and perhaps name telepathy) as a duo paid off. The pair worked like a well-oiled machine, diving and weaving around each other, directing the shuttlecock towards their opponents at a rapid-fire pace.
Quickly, RI began opening up a lead on HCI, with the score climbing to 16-4 in RI’s favour. Despite this initial lapse, the HCI shuttlers remained unfazed and managed to score 5 more points before RI put an end to the first set with a score of 21-9.
In the second set, however, HCI started to gain their footing, pulling a point back for almost every point the RI shuttlers scored. While there was initially nervous chatter among the supporters, cheers erupted after Chloe and Chloe narrowly secured the team’s second win at 21-19.
3rd Match: Jennifer Wu Chujie (24S06N) vs Tan Seo Shien Grace
Although the RI shuttlers had won 4-1 against HCI in the previous year, the team was not content that they had been defeated in the second singles match. As Jennifer Wu (24S06N) prepared for her match, the hopes of the team fell on her alone—could she, the youngest of the seven shuttlers present, redeem their previous loss?
But to the supporters’ surprise, the HCI shuttler moved at lightning speed and matched each stroke or save that Jennifer pulled off. Soon, the first set ended at 8-21 in HCI’s favour. Could they win the second singles again?
Entering the second set, Jennifer put up a stronger fight, gaining momentum slowly and steadily. Maintaining her calm and collected disposition, Jennifer managed to recover from her opponent’s strong offence and eventually won the set with a score of 21-16.
With both sides tied, a third set was required to decide the winner of the second singles. Both schools seemed to have an equal chance of winning this match. Taking her coaches’ advice, Jennifer smashed the shuttlecock towards the forecourt more often, which caught her opponent off guard.
After a long struggle, Jennifer emerged victorious, scoring 21-17, and earning her vice-captain, Alicia Ling’s (23S02A) approval. “Especially for the second singles, […] Jennifer really did her best.”
4th Match: Tan Li Ting (23S06F) & Ling Shi Hui Alicia (23S02A) vs Chu Jia Hwee, Jasmine & Chua Yee Ling
Witnessing the fight Jennifer put up in her match, Tan Li Ting (23S06F), captain of the girl’s team, and Ling Shi Hui Alicia (23S02A), vice-captain, were even more determined to win. Off to an explosive start, Li Ting and Alicia kept the lead with powerful and strategic smashes that caused their opponents to hesitate a few times. Li Ting and Alicia received attacks quickly, and gained more confidence by the second interval.
Yet, the players from HCI never gave up, and kept the duo from RI on their toes. With great teamwork and emphatic calls of “Nice save”, the first set ended with a score of 21-10 in our favour.
The opponents from Hwa Chong took the lead in the second set with a score of 5-3. However, Li Ting and Alicia recovered from the smashes quickly. They found their momentum and maintained a 6-point win streak that ended the second set with a score of 21-15, securing RI’s 4th victory in the game.
5th Match: Goh Shan Fei Faith (23S03N) vs Ong Yu Xian
Would the girls have a clean sweep? The pressure was on Goh Shan Fei Faith (23S03N) to win the final match. Keeping calm and collected, Faith maintained the lead. Whenever her opponent would begin to catch up, Faith stepped up her attack with quick smashes and caught the opponent off guard with drop shots. The first set ended at 21-14 in RI’s favour.
Tensions were running high. The two competitors were neck-to-neck. After the first interval of the second set, HCI had the upper hand with a score of 9-11 but Faith levelled the playing field in the next interval. Faith focused on and fought for every point. With a final score of 21-15, the RI Badminton Girls beat HCI 5-0.
Raffles Badminton Girls Remain Victorious
When the final shuttlecock hit the ground, the RI Badminton team jumped off the bench and sprinted to congratulate the players while the supporters rose to their feet, beating their white and green clappers together and cheering for the girls.
Despite the loss, the atmosphere remained friendly; many of the Hwa Chong players were childhood friends with the RI girls and had been playing badminton with each other since young. They crossed the court to shake each others’ hands and take photos with each other, commemorating yet another competition shared.
“They put up a good fight and the result is what we have expected,” the team’s instructor, Coach Ronald, commented. “They did a brilliant job.”
Indeed, it was heartwarming to see even the HCI players celebrating RI’s win and the RI girls lifting the championship trophy for the sixth consecutive year, the result of all of their hard work, with much pride. The NSG season has ended with jubilant smiles, and the RI Badminton Girls have done it again!
Watch Highlights of the Match Here:
Girls’ Badminton Team
Tan Li Ting (23S06F) – Captain
Ling Shi Hui Alicia (23S02A) – Vice-Captain
Chloe Liew Huey Qi (23S03J)
Goh Shan Fei Faith (23S03N)
Sharifah Nur Hanisah Binte Shaik Mohd Danial (23S06O)
Tan Shi Bin (23S06D)
Chloe Chan Ying Xuan (23S06T)
Suresh Harshida (24S03L)
Kwee Zhiyi (24S03P)
Tricia Chia Kee Ann (24S06I)
Wang Xinxuan (24S06L)
Jennifer Wu Chujie (24S06N)