By REDintern Tessa Cho
Kallang Tennis Centre, Thursday, May 9, 2013 — Raffles Institution (RI) won the National Schools A Division Tennis Championship title for the fifth consecutive year after they beat Anglo-Chinese School (Independent) (ACS(I)) 5–0 in the finals. RI’s stellar performance saw them completing the entire tournament without dropping a single match. In 2012, RI also played ACS(I) in the finals and won it 4–1.
From the preliminary round through to the semi-finals, the victory of the RI boys seemed to be set as they comfortably defeated all of their opponents which included, Anderson Junior College, Catholic Junior College, National Junior College, Anglo-Chinese School (International), St Andrew’s Junior College, Serangoon Junior College, Temasek Junior College and Anglo-Chinese Junior College.
Nevertheless, the RI boys were aware of who they were up against in this finals. “ACS(I) is a tough opponent and they have been our rivals for the past few years. So I think its going to be a close match before we step into the court, although we have confidence in ourselves because we train very hard,” said Tan Jia Wei, captain of RI. The team trained four times a week and had physical training for half an hour after each training.
The team boasts of 16 players, with only a maximum of 12 selected to represent the school for the national schools championships. The players had to earn their spot in the team through their performance during an overseas training trip to Taiwan in March.
In addition, the RI boys said they had a “perfect line-up, where they were matched strength to strength” with their ACS(I) opponents.
However, whilst RI’s win was confirmed within the first one and a half hours after the start of all the matches, all eyes were focused on the final match that was still going on in court 9 between Steve Ng of RI and Rohan Kamdar of ACS(I), the strongest players of both teams.
Starting half an hour later due to a wet and slippery court, the match went on for a whooping two hours and 26 minutes before a winner could be determined.
“The wet court did affect my play a little because Rohan is more of a slice player so when the slice hits the wet ground the ball will skid and it becomes harder to hit. But, after the first few games I could get used to it so it got better,” said Steve with regard to the initial delay in the match.
The first set saw the ACS(I) player stepping up his game quickly to break his opponent’s serve while holding his own, giving him a 2-0 lead. As Rohan continued to hold his serve and break another of Steve’s serve, he managed to extend his lead to 5-2. Despite Steve’s comeback from 2–5 to 6–6, pushing the set into a tie-break, Rohan eventually won the set with a tie-break score of 7–3.
In the second set, Steve came back strong, taking it 6-4 in slightly less than an hour, to tie the overall score at 1–1.
Building on his momentum, Steve gained a comfortable 5–1 lead in the final set. Serving to stay in the match, Rohan committed a few unforced errors to bring about match point for Steve. Eventually, an overhead smash by Steve won the game, set and match, and he then dropped his racket and hobbled around while holding his leg before lying on the ground, half in pain, half in joy, from cramps.
About his thoughts after losing the first set, Steve said: “I kind of knew I could win the second set because he looked tired, so I just needed to play longer points. Then, in the third set he started to cramp, so I could capitalize on that.”
With regard to his initial feelings towards his match against ACS(I)’s strongest player, Steve said: “I was pretty nervous and it was quite tense. (I) felt a lot of pressure.” To which at this point, he pointed to his teammate, Christopher Wu, beside him and added: “But this guys helped to ease the pressure.” Christopher then chipped in: “Just remember, its LCABRO (Love and Care for Brothers) Christopher and Steve, I think you should jot it down.”
“But actually, during the first set, two of the matches were already over so I knew that we (RI) were already 2-0 up so I felt a lot more confident and came back from 2-5 down to 5-all,” said Steve. “And after the first set, I learnt that we’ve already won, 4-0, so I thought this was just a match against one of my rivals.”
RI 5 ACS(I) 0
Score by Match
RI vs ACS(I)
Lee Kai Yi beat Paul Chow
Steve Ng beat Rohan Kamdar
6–7 (3–7), 6–4, 6–1
Tan Jia Wei/Benedict Chua beat Yeo Ee Jin/Nick Kong
7–6 (7–5), 6–1
Basir Koh/Christopher Wu beat Andrew Kwan/Teddy Cheong
Tan Jun Sing beat Calvin Tjio
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