Kallang Squash Centre sprang to life on 29 April as the much-awaited A Division Girls Squash Finals went underway. Cheers resonated throughout the venue as our squash girls met arch rivals, Raffles Institution in the last lap of their season. After months of vigorous training, our female squash players fought with all their might and eventually bagged the National First Runners Up title! Well done!
Firstly, let us understand the game play of squash.
To win a game in squash, a team has to win 3 ties out of the 5 that will be played. The player that manages to win 3 sets in each tie will win the tie. Every individual set is played to 11 points and the winner must win the opponent by 2 points.
Each player has to ensure that his or her ball hits the front wall within the boundaries of the court marked on all the walls. Players may do so by using the side-walls and even the glass wall to direct their return to the front wall. The ball is only allowed to bounce once on the ground before a return is to be made. The player may also choose to return the ball before it hits the ground. This constitutes a volley.
Here are some common terminologies:
Boast— ball bounces off either side-wall or the back wall before the front wall
Reverse boast – ball bounces off front wall and hits either side wall
Volley— to hit back a ball before it touches the floor
Drive— a shot that hits the front wall and travels deep to the back of the court
Drop— to hit the ball lightly such that it drops in the front half of the court
Let— to replay a point because you were in the way of opponent
Stroke— a point given to the person whose way was obstructed
Cross-court— to hit across the court to the other side
Before we sound the battle drums, let us meet our squash girls!
Clara Ng (14S6D)
Natalie Tan (13S66)
Wong Hui Ling (14S6B)
Samantha Phey (13S77)
Rachel Teo (13S7B)
Claire Lim (13S74)
Liaw Ying Qi (13S6F)
Liow Qi Yi (14S70)
Tie 1 (HCI 3: RI 0)
Player 1: Clara Ng
Set 1 (HCI Won)
The opponent was quick to establish a 0-4 lead by driving balls to the far end of the court, making it difficult for Clara to execute a return. Unfazed, Clara played on tactfully and regained control of the game. Clara’s balls to the extreme corners of the court were skillfully followed by sickening short returns, causing the opponent to scurry for the ball. Clara’s clever tactics enabled herto edge over her opponent to bring the score to 6-4, much to the cheers of the supporters. Powerful drives by Clara in the subsequent balls eventually helped her to seal the set at 11-7 as the opponent was forced into returning balls which were too low.
Set 2 (HCI Won)
Clara impressed the spectators with her wit in the opening ball. With a light swing of her racquet, Clara directed her ball to the left side of the front half of the court. After a lucky save by her opponent, Clara immediately drove the ball to the right side of the back end of the court. Such lightning reflexes gave the opponent little time for recovery, causing the return to be too low.
Clara also fastidiously played numerous drop shots. Positioning her ball just under the bottom boundary on the wall, the reflected ball went straight into the ground and rolled off. That left the opponent without any chances of executing a return. Clara easily triumphed her opponent 11-8 in this set.
Set 3 (HCI Won)
Needing only one more set to win the tie, Clara switched to lashing boasts at her opponents to dominate the game. With deadly swings of her racquet, the boasts were executed at bullet speeds. The impeccable shots blinded both the opponent and the fervently cheering spectators. Determined, the opponent pressed on and delivered several drop shots to bring the score to 8-8. Although tensions between the two sides grew, Clara maintained her composure and propelled herself ahead to a 10-9 lead with impossible drop shots. To end it off, Clara managed a return that crept along the right wall, denying the opponent any opportunity of a return. With that, Clara won the set 11-9.
Tie 2 (HCI 1: RI 4)
Player 2: Natalie Tan
Set 1 (RI Won)
The set started off with tension in the air as Natalie and her competitor took turns to score. Natalie managed to pull away from a 2-2 draw by returning her opponent’s serve with a volley. Just as Natalie swung her racquet with enormous strength, her opponent stepped backwards to prepare to receive. When the ball touched Natalie’s racquet, she instantly dropped the power to volley a short ball. Astonished, the opponent dashed forward but her return was too short. Such a brilliant display of technique got the supporters going crazy! However, the opponent soon got back into her form and executed drives to the corners of the court that helped her to win the set with a score of 5-11.
Set 2 (HCI Won)
Continuing with the drives, the opponent managed to establish an early 1-5 lead. With fierce determination and strong encouragement from the spectators, Natalie made a strong comeback. Natalie delivered returnsto the extreme corners of the court, causing the balls to bounce off the side and glass walls to land on the ground immediately. This denied the opponent any chance to receive the ball. With that, Natalie gloriously sealed the set at 11-9.
Set 3 (RI Won)
The positioning of one’s returns was the dominant strategy employed by both squash players to gain points in this set. After a close race, the score quickly reached 4-5. Hoping to equalize the score, Natalie paid special attention to the movements of her opponent during the next ball. Having noticed that her opponent was running towards the front left hand corner of the court, Natalie sagaciously executed a drop shot towards the front right hand corner of the court. As expected, the opponent missed, equalizing the score at 5-5.
Determined, the opponent was not ready to back down. She managed several reverse boasts that caused the ball to travel along the side-walls, making it tough for Natalie to return. Although the score ballooned to 6-10, Natalie was unfazed. She trudged forward vehemently to level the score at 10-10, much to the delight of the supporters. However, the set eventually went to RI with a score of 11-13, after the opponent returned two balls in the opposite direction from where Natalie was standing.
Set 4 (RI Won)
A few balls after the set started, both sides were awarded with a stroke to level the score at 3-3. For the subsequent balls, the opponent executed several sickening drop shots as well as returns that went along the side-walls. Natalie expended every bit of fuel left in her to fight back with miraculous saves. Unfortunately, a number of her returns were a tad too low. With that, the set ended with a score of 4-11 to RI.
Tie 3 (HCI 0: RI 3)
Player 3: Wong Hui Ling
Set 1 (RI Won)
The opening ball went to RI after a drive by the opponent to the back right corner of the court left Hui Ling without the opportunity to return. Undaunted, Hui Lingboldly returned the next ball close to front wall, forcing her opponent to scramble for the ball. Despite the opponent’s efforts, her return fell short of the boundary line, causing the score to level at 1-1. Cheers erupted, as Hui Ling’simpeccable sense of ball control impressed the spectators.
The set eventually concluded at 6-11 after the opponent used the extreme corners of the court to make it an onerous task for Hui Lingto return her balls.
Set 2 (RI Won)
In no time, the score quickly reached 3-7. It was at this moment that both squash players engaged in a rally of cross-court shots. This ball was especially energy draining as the girls sprinted from corner to corner. Ultimately, Hui Lingoutlasted her opponent who ended the rally with an erroneous low shot to bring the score to 4-7. Riding on the momentum, Hui Ling managed a neat low drop shot at the front right hand corner of the court to gain another point. Unfortunately, a couple of minor mistakes by Hui Lingeventually brought the set to an end with a score of 5-11.
Set 3 (RI Won)
The third game saw both squash players breathing down each other’s neck. After several strokes and drives from both sides, the score became 5-8. Then, Hui Ling managed to turn a surprising short centre ball from her opponent into a long drive to the back left corner of the court. Dumbfounded, the opponent returned with a ball that was too high, bringing the score to 6-8.With cleverly positioned drives and balls that caressed the side-walls, Hui Ling made a lionhearted comeback to gain the lead at 9-8. Unfortunately, a couple of errors by Hui Lingmeant that the lead was soon lost with RI earning the first match point. However, Hui Lingpushed on to force her opponent into returning with an overly low ball to result in a deuce. All spectators held their breaths as the players went head on and encountered two more deuce situations. Hui Ling gave it her all in the final few balls but was unable to return the drop shots by her opponent. With that, the set ended closely at 12-14.
Tie 4 (HCI 0: RI 3)
Player 4: Samantha Phey
With RI holding on to an overall 2-1 lead, this tie is of paramount importance as it may decide which side gets the coveted title of National Champions.
Set 1 (RI Won)
Our opponent managed to get an early1-4 lead after a few drives and drop shots. Samantha managed a jaw-dropping save after sprinting across the court to receive a short ball from her opponent. With a huge swing, she drove the ball to the right corner of the back half of the court, catching her opponent by surprise! The opponent could not keep up with the rapid pace and only managed a return that was too low, bringing the score to 2-4.
Samantha then went on to wow the spectators with a reverse boast. Her ball hit the side-wall first before hitting the glass wall. Not only did Samantha’s fast paced ball leave the opponent cross-eyed, it also forced her to make an abrupt change in direction. The opponent could not manage a return, earning Samantha a point to bring the score to 3-7. However, the opponent eventually sprang back from her error to seal the set at 3-11.
Set 2 (RI Won)
Like the previous set, RI managed an early 1-4 lead after a few lethal drop shots at the front half of the court. Hoping to extend her lead, the opponent executed a trick. Receiving Samantha’s ball with a wide swing, it looked like as if the opponent was about to deliver a drive. Surprisingly, the ball only made a brief contact with front wall before landing. However, the trick did not work on the quick-witted Samantha, who dashed forward to return with a drive. The stunned opponent could not manage a return, bringing the score to 2-4.
In a matter of minutes, RI managed to obtain the match point at 4-10. Despite the risky situation, Samantha pressed on to deliver two consecutive drop shots to up the score to 6-10, leaving spectators in awe. An overly low return by Samantha eventually ended the set at 6-11.
Set 3 (RI Won)
Samantha continued to impress with her tactical play in this set. She won the opening ball after delivering a drive that the opponent could not receive. Samantha then went on to execute a drop shot at the front right corner of the court when her opponent was running towards the back left corner, bringing the score to 2-1. The crowd erupted in exhilaration after witnessing such a high level of proficiency from Samantha.
Determined, the opponent also executed her series of impressive drop shots. Responding to that, Samantha braved scratches and dived on numerous occasions to try to receive the balls. Both girls were breathing down each other’s necks as they fought for the glory of their schools. Drop shots and impressive corner drives were aplenty. Ultimately, it was RI that managed to rise ahead in the fierce competition to win the set 6-11.
Tie 5 (HCI 0: RI 3)
Player 5: Rachel Teo
Set 1 (RI Won)
Rachel truly embodied the 自强不息 spirit as she gave it her all despite encountering a formidable opponent. She managed to demolish the 0-2 lead enjoyed by her opponent by scoring two consecutive points. The first point was awarded after an impressive drop shot by Rachel left the opponent scrambling for a return. Riding on the momentum, a beautiful corner drive by Rachel forced the opponent into returning a ball that went under the boundary line. With that, the score was at 2-2. However, the opponent soon recovered and went on to deliver boasts and volleys to conclude the set at 3-11.
Set 2 (RI Won)
The opponent used the side-wall to her advantage in this round. She made her balls travel parallel and close to the wall to make it an uphill battle for Rachel to return the shots. Unfazed, Rachel confidently attempted to return the balls with volleys and backhands. The opponent also delivered several cross-court drives that were hard to receive. In response, Rachel shook away the growing fatigue in her to run for every ball to try to receive them. Although the set ended at 0-11, Rachel’s efforts are highly commendable!
Set 3 (RI Won)
Rachel delivered several good returns in this set. The first one came soon after the set started. After a few exchanges, the opponent returned with a reverse boast that hit the side-wall just inches away from the ground. Spectators watched nervously as the ball quickly descended towards the ground. In the nick of time, Rachel managed to position her racquet close to the ground to execute an inhumanly return that kept the ball in play!
Rachel surprised her opponent and the spectators once again with a brilliant reverse boast that hit the side-wall at very low height. The ball bounced off the wall and immediately rolled on the ground. There was absolutely no chance that the opponent could return the ball. The opponent even acknowledged the great shot with a brief nod of her head at Rachel!
The set eventually concluded with a score of 1-11 to RI.
With that, the A division female squash season came to a close. Our squash girls have certainly done our school proud by putting up a strong fight. More importantly, they were exemplary in act and in value as they never once gave up in spite of the strong opponent. Congratulations girls!
40th CCA PROs