Written by Stephanie Yeo
Edited by Ong Hui Shan
This was it. The epic showdown between David and Goliath. Temasek vs KEVII. As the first sport to make it to IHG finals, it was the talk of KE with conversations going “eh you going to watch, not?” to which the responses were either “ya, of course! I want to see Hall Master’s son play”, or “ya, I want to see Joan play against their IVP”.
Like any other match, both teams had to submit their line-up to the Convening Committee. In a somewhat cruel twist of fate, the TH IVP players were placed in the middle of the lineup, giving them an edge. Nevertheless, our guys took it in their stride and rose up to the challenge.
Unfortunately, as the match time was pushed forward to 5.30pm when many KE kids were still having lessons, there were fewer supporters present for the first few sets. Nevertheless, Hall Master turning up to lend support to Weng Shian, first up against Yi Sheng of TH, was definitely a heartening sight.
FIRST UP: WENG SHIAN
Feeling under the weather due to flu, Weng Shian could not give it his all, on which Yi Sheng capitalised: he showed no mercy as he sent the ball all over the court, with a few hard-to-reach corner shots, ending the first set 6-11 to TH. However, our Young Master upped his game in the second set having warmed up after the first – he went on to win the second set 11-6. Throughout the game, Hall Master gave encouragement by yelling out “One point at a time!”
Halfway through the third set, Weng Shian started to suffer the pains of a hamstring pull, and Yi Sheng was relentless in forcing him to run across the court. The game came to a pause at 7-9 as Weng Shian was in urgent need of first aid. To everyone’s dismay, neither TH nor KE was equipped with a first aid kit, and the only safety box was at the soccer pitch. It was definitely a lesson learnt on the importance of being adequately equipped, especially with basic first aid. An unpleasant turn of events ensued as an argument broke out between the safety officer and a few concerned supporters over the lack of an additional safety box; the game also had to be put on hold until the safety box was fetched from the soccer field. Despite the pain of his sports injury, Weng Shian put up a tough fight; alas, Yi Sheng still prevailed 11-6, securing TH’s first win. Nevertheless, the crowd cheered wildly for Weng Shian for fighting till the end.
NEXT UP: JOAN
Next, Joan faced off with Byron “Caveman” Koh (he has a deafening cheer). Byron has been playing the sport since 13, so this was no easy match for our Spaniard. The first set saw a series of long rallies which ended with Byron’s 11-6 victory, to which Joan confidently remarked“I’m just warming up!”
However, things did not go our way in the second set either: KE lost 3-11. Joan slipped on the court a few times, and KE’s Feng Fei had to enter the court to wipe it clean at one point! Joan managed to turn the tide in our favour as he won a tired Byron in the third set, 11-5. An amazing racket-behind-back stunt by Joan sent the crowd into raucous applause. It was a sheer test of stamina in the fourth set, and it ended with a narrow 2 point margin 9-11 in TH’s favour. Both players exchanged a big hug to everyone’s amusement.
THE MAKE OR BREAK
The 2 toughest matches were against IVP players from TH: our captain Bryan vs their captain Chong Guang, and Ben Tham vs Jia Hui (they played each other last year too). Bryan was unable to return enough of his wily opponent’s powerful forehand shots and lost in straight sets 5-11, 0-11 and 3-11.
Benjamin had a bit more “luck” with his “lucky” ensemble of red shirt and pants. He won his first set 11-7 against a very relaxed Jia Hui which led to the question: was he conserving his energy to spring more surprises? In between sets, Jia Hui was seen rallying the ball in a V-shape between front corners of the court – show off or pure skill? This remained to be seen. Benjamin was simply a pure delight to watch – a bundle of bouncy joy around the court. He would pick himself up with a smile after a fall, and this toned down the aggressive nature of the game. Unfortunately, Ben could not maintain the lead he established in the first round, and finally succumbed to Jia Hui’s all-around attacking game 5-11, 5-11, 3-11.
THE FINAL TOUCHES
Though KE had lost her gold medal, Feng Fei still rounded up the last match against Yong Wen with confidence and skill. He made Yong Wen run fore court and back court, wearing him out. Yong Wen had to catch his breath for a moment in the final third set with the score at 4-1, lying sprawled out on the floor. Beat, Yong Wen conceded 3 straight games, all ending with the same score 11-3. Sadly, it was an ungracious moment as an unsporting Yong Wen flung his racket down in frustration!
FROM THE HORSES’ MOUTHS
And now, a few words from the team:
Feng Fei: Although we lost the 4 matches, I fought on for the honour of the hall. Thank you supporters!
Ben: I am glad Unnaa was here to watch me although I didn’t win. Unfortunately, she didn’t hug me when I lost :(
Bryan: I did not expect much. TH is a strong team. We just did our best and see where it takes us. The guys did really well, put up a good fight, and I’m proud of them. The supporters were amazing! Overall, I am happy with the result.
Our squash guys have really come far with a united front of team effort. Despite losing, it is undeniable that they had fought with all their might and never once betrayed any signs of throwing in the towel. TH may have ‘squashed’ us in the game, but they definitely did not squash our spirits!