Focused and hardworking, RI boys win squash team gold

Focused and hardworking, RI boys win squash team gold
EASY WIN: RI’s Tan Hua Wang (in white) getting the better of ACS (I) captain Randall Yeo.

Last year, they lost to eventual champions Fairfield Methodist Secondary School in the semi-finals of the Boys' B Division Squash Championship.

While there was never any mention of revenge, either in training or during matches, it quickly became clear that the Raffles Institution (RI) squash team were on a mission in 2015.

They crushed their opponents in the preliminary round and semi-finals, booking their spot in the final against Anglo-Chinese School (Independent).

RI ensured there was no let-up in yesterday's final at Ngee Ann Polytechnic, easing to a 4-1 victory to lift the crown.

It was RI's first B Division crown since 2008.

While his boys had already whitewashed ACS(I) in an earlier round, Raffles coach Allan Chang did warn his charges against being over-confident.

"The opponents would be out for revenge," said Chang. "I told them to take it point by point and they followed instructions and did well."

The Rafflesians drew first blood when Tan Hua Wang and Rutvik Rau won their respective singles matches to give their team a 2-0 lead.

ACS(I) vice-captain Joshua Chew rallied to take the next game 3-0 (11-6, 11-9, 11-2) over Raffles' captain Kevin Tong, but national junior Anders Ong's victory over Keagan Wong gave Raffles the title.

Raffles' vice-captain Tan Ijoe summed up the attitude of the team when he kept the foot on the pedal in the dead rubber, storming to an emphatic 3-0 (11-4, 11-7, 11-5) win over ACS(I)'s Ong Li-Jin to wrap up the tie at 4-1.

ACS(I) captain Randall Yeo, 16, admitted that he was impressed by the opponents and said they learnt an important lesson.

He said: "We've played Raffles before and we know their style of play, but it's different in a competition setting. Our mentalities during training and in competition are very different."

CLEAN SLATE FOR IJOE, THE KEY TO ENSURING HIS TEAMMATES' MINDS REMAINED FREE OF PAST SETBACKS WAS TO REMIND THEM TO "START AFRESH EVERY YEAR".

Said the 16-year-old: "We started training with a clean slate and it helped us to regroup and focus after last year's performance."

Ijoe, who has been playing squash for six years, is also in the national junior ranks as well as a school prefect.

While he admits that his many responsibilities sometimes lead to a "messy schedule", Ijoe says there have been no major issues due to his various commitments.

"For now, squash comes first since the B Division tournament is ongoing and my prefect duties have to come second," he said.

NATIONAL BOYS' B DIVISION SQUASH CHAMPIONSHIP RESULTS:

-1st: Raffles Institution

-2nd: Anglo-Chinese School (Independent)

-3rd: St Andrew's Secondary School

-4th: Fairfield Methodist Secondary School

cnicole@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on Apr 14, 2015.
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