After months of arduous training and intense competition, our table tennis girls earned their place in the finals. The cool air conditioning of the competition venue failed to douse the fighting spirit of our table tennis girls as they painstakingly fought against Raffles Institution for every single point. After a tough fight, our girls gloriously bagged the National 1st Runners Up title! Well done girls!
There are a total of 5 matches in the finals, with each match consisting of 5 rounds. The first team to win 3 out of the 5 rounds wins the match, and the final two rounds need not be played. To win a round, each player will have to win 11 points. Similarly, the first team to win 3 of the 5 matches wins the game entirely. In the 5 rounds played, three rounds are singles while the other two are doubles. The singles and doubles games alternate one after another.
Offensive strokes include speed drive, where force is applied directly to the ball resulting in a fast ball. Counter-drive, loop and the all-time favourite smash are strokes where topspin is applied. On the other hand, defensive strokes include push and chop. When backspin is applied to defensive strokes, they are known as blocks and the lobs.
Now that we know how the game works, let us meet the girls!
Wu Yao Yao (13A12)
Tan Xi Min (14S65)
Crystal Yang (14S62)
Tan Li Ting (13S73)
Celeste Tan (13S71)
Jerilyn Hui (13S6Q)
Zhu Zhe Ya (14S73)
Wu Xin Yi (14S77)
Ng Min Yi (14S6H)
Now, let the finals begin!
Match 1 – Singles (HCI 2: RI 3)
Player: Wu Yao Yao
Round 1 (RI won)
Our supporters watched in trepidation as Yao Yao experienced a point drought that lasted 8 points, bringing the score to 0-8 to RI. The dry spell was finally broken when Yao Yao executed a quick topspin ball that caught our opponent by surprise. The opponent tried hard to return but her ball ricocheted off the net instead. That brought the score to 1-8. Recovering from her nerves, Yao Yao continued delivering her powerful top-spins that RI had trouble receiving. That earned her 2 consecutive points to bring the score to 3-8. Not backing down, RI came back strong and scored 3 points consecutively to win the game 3-11.
Round 2 (HCI won)
RI suffered the dry spell this time round as Yao Yao smashed her way to 5-0 lead. For the next point, Yao Yao and her opponent engaged in a rally of lightning speed smashes. The rally ended with a shot from Yao Yao that was a tad too low. The ball flew into the net, winning RI a point. The fiery exchanges continued for the rest of the round but it was Yao Yao who outdid her opponent and chalked up the points. Yao Yao eventually won the round with a score of 11-4.
Round 3 (HCI won)
Round 3 kept the spectators at the edge of their seats. With numerous speed drives and side spins, Yao Yao caught her opponent by surprise, propelling the score to 6-2 in no time. The next ball went to RI as the opponent cleverly observed Yao Yao’s position and delivered a powerful backhand to the other half of the table, bringing the score to 6-3. Continuing the momentum, RI claimed the next few points to level the score at 6-6. It was here that the game got nerve wrecking as both sides took turns to score a point each, bringing the score to 9-9. At this critical juncture, RI won the match point by lobbing a chop ball and then smashing the return. Fortunately, Yao Yao kept her cool and placed a shot that was out of reach for her opponent resulting in a deuce, 10-10. The deuce lasted till 12-12 until Yao Yao won the game eventually with a score of 14-12.
Round 4 (RI Won)
Yao Yao and her competitor were neck and neck throughout this game. It was impossible to determine who would win the round as both of them levelled the score at many instances. When the score was 8-9, the opponent returned the ball at an unusual angle. With quick reflexes, Yao Yao stretched as far possible and managed a smash return. The magnificent save left the opponent dumbfounded and a point was awarded to Hwa Chong The tight race to the finish continued and the deuce situation was encountered twice. Hearts pounded as the score reached 11-11. Determined, the opponent scored the next two points to win the game with vicious smashes.
Round 5 (RI Won)
Once the round started, our opponent wasted no time in gaining points. With well-calculated smashes and impeccable spin balls, the opponent forced Yao Yao into committing errors such as returning the ball into the net. Hearts sank as RI’s lead extended to 1-6. However, the fearless Yao Yao was not about to give up. Giving her opponent a taste of her own medicine, Yao Yao executed top-spin smashes that the opponent had trouble returning. Yao Yao made a strong comeback to bring the score to 8-6. As the situation got more intense, the opponent managed to pick up enough points to win the round with a score of 8-11.
Match 2 – Doubles (HCI 0: RI 3)
Players: Tan Xi Min & Crystal Yang
Round 1 (RI Won)
The game started off with both sides driving their balls into the net, bringing the score to 1-2. RI then carefully drove the next ball to the opposite side of the table, forcing our players to quickly move from one corner to another. Despite their excellent footwork, our girls narrowly missed returning the ball, thus bringing the score to 1-3. The Hwa Chong duo pressed on with their fight and eventually managed to equalize at 6-6. Both sides then had their fair share of errors to bring the score to 9-9. At this critical juncture, both sides decided to be on the defence, playing chop balls instead. The RI duo soon became impatient and decided to go for a lob to end the chop rally and go onto the offence. However, their lob was not high enough and the ball flew into the net, giving our girls the match point! Unfortunately, the triumph was short lived as RI picked up 3 consecutive points to win the round with a score of 10-12.
Round 2 (RI Won)
RI took the early lead by claiming the first two points with vicious smashes. Those two smashes caught our girls by surprise causing them to deflect the ball out of play. However, our opponents were not that lucky the third time. Xi Min and Crystal returned RI’s smashes with side-spins returned RI’s smashes with sides spins that forced the RI players to commit errors. That enabled us to climb ahead of the RI duo to bring the score to 4-2. Unfortunately, our lead did not last long. The score soon ballooned to 9-9 just like the previous game. Our girls managed to gain the match point after forcing RI to return a long ball. But RI refused to back down and scored the final 3 points to claim the game at 10-12.
Round 3 (RI Won)
Round 3 ended in a flash as both sides upped their game. Both sides earned themselves a point soon after the game started as the shots from both sides went long. The players then played a game of cat and mouse that saw both sides taking turns to score points, bringing it to 5-5. It was at this juncture that RI managed to extend their lead. With powerful top-spins and drives, the RI duo made it an uphill battle for our girls to return the balls, most of which ended up in the net. That brought the score to 5-10. Fired on by the cheers from the spectators, Xi Min and Crystal finally ended the drought by forcing RI to commit an error. However, our point came a little too late as RI bagged the next point to become the overall winner of the game.
Game 3 – Singles (HCI 0: RI 3)
Name of player: Tan Li Ting
Round 1 (RI Won)
RI wasted no time in delivering a smash at Li Ting. Li Ting fiercely attempted to block but the angle of her bat was slightly off, causing the ball to be deflected too much to the side of the table. Our opponent continued her fierce strokes at Li Ting but the RI player managed a high return. That presented Li Ting with a magnificent opportunity to smash. Everyone held their breath as the opponent stepped back and prepared for the finish. Surprisingly, the opponent got her angle wrong and the ball went long. This equalized the score at 1-1.
In a quick exchange of smashes and top spins, the score rapidly reached 5-5. The opponent then picked up the pace and went on a scoring spree. With a combination of side spins and top spins, she forced Li Ting into making errors, denying our side any points. To finish the game, the opponent delivered a brutal smash that was seemingly impossible to receive. Round 1 concluded with the score standing at 5-11.
Round 2 (RI Won)
Li Ting committed several errors in the choice of techniques used to return her opponent’s balls, bringing the score to 1-4. The 3 point gap continued till 3-6 after shots from each side flew into the net. Not wanting to trail further behind, Li Tingastutely angled her services and returns based on the position of her opponent so as to force the opponent to run from side to side. The move enabled Li Ting to make a comeback and equalize the score at 6-6.
Not wanting to waste the comeback, Li Ting trudged on fastidiously to minimize the point gaps. The game soon reached an exacting point with the score standing at 9-9. It was Li Ting who obtained the first match point. However, we lost the lead after a long block and another deuce occurred. A long ball by RI gave us the next match point but the lead was lost again after Li Ting’s ball flew into the net. Tension filled the air as the rivals went head on against each other. Unfortunately, the game ended with a score of 11-13.
Round 3 (RI Won)
Requiring only one more round to win the match, our opponent unleashed all her energy in this third round. She varied between short and long returns, causing Li Ting to be on her toes. This brought the score to 0-2, favouring RI. Our opponent then went a step further to execute an aggressive smash to the side of the table. Li Tingextended her arms in an attempt to reach for the ball but the angle was just too wide. With that, the score climbed to 0-3. Riding on the momentum, our opponent went on a scoring spree with smashes and difficult spins to edge ahead of Li Ting by a score of 0-9. A careless service by RI ended the dry spell for us but that did not break our opponent’s flow. She easily scored two more points with impactful drives to win the round 1-11.
At the end of the day, the better team won. Although we did not clinch the championship title, the sheer effort and determination displayed by our table tennis girls certainly deserve much praise. With such a positive attitude, we are sure that our girls’ table tennis team will be able to achieve greater heights next year. All the best and congratulations!
40th CCA PROs