SSP Boys unite to claim maiden title

Individually, none of the Singapore Sports School's (SSP) B Division boys' tennis players had ever been crowned division champions before.

But collectively they proved stronger than the traditional powerhouses, Anglo-Chinese School (Independent), as they beat the defending champions 4-1 to take the title at the Kallang Tennis Centre on Wednesday.

Despite this being their first year on the school tennis scene, SSP boasted a line-up that featured some of the Republic's top junior players, who were transferred in from mainstream schools such as Raffles Institution and St Andrew's Secondary over the past two years.

Said team member Seth Teoh: "Everyone was expecting us to win, to play at our best. It made us nervous, but when we played we felt quite comfortable."

The 16-year-old linked up with Enzo Chua, 15, to register a 6-1, 6-1 doubles victory over ACS (I)'s Alexander Lee and Yoshio Masuda.

SSP also swept the singles matches, with Sherwin Foo defeating Law Tze Ming 7-5, 6-2, Finnish teenager Richard Wohlstrom beating Julian Cheng 6-3, 6-3 and Shaheed Alam thumping Joshua Tan 6-1, 6-2.

They had fielded this team at the behest of the Singapore Tennis Association (STA), which wanted to raise the level of competition.

"We've seen the benefits of their (SSP's) participation in other sports," said STA general manager Gregory Tan. "Schools might take a while to accept that, but they could see it as improving themselves by trying to beat the SSP."

Despite failing to retain their title, ACS (I) remained upbeat, taking heart in knowing that they had produced their best effort.

Said captain Will Angkawidjaja: "We knew the odds were against us, but I'm proud that we gave 110 per cent and fought hard, which is what our supporters deserved."

The 16-year-old partnered Raahil Doshi to thrash SSP's Bryan Wee and Curtis Lee 6-0, 6-0 - the only match ACS (I) won.

"Tennis is not about winning - its purpose is to build character, to be resolute, unyielding and resilient. We would fight just as hard given another chance, maybe next year," said Will.

In the girls' competition, Methodist Girls' School (MGS) snared their fourth straight B Division title with a 4-1 victory over Raffles Girls' School (RGS).

The two schools had met in last year's semi-finals when MGS won 4-1 en route to winning the championship.

They proved supreme in the singles matches, winning all three ties to secure the title.

Ruhi Kamdar beat Ng Qin Yi 6-0, 6-3, Felicia Thng outgunned Dominique Oh 6-0, 6-0, while Joanne Koh prevailed over Izabella Tan 4-6, 7-6 (7-4), 1-0, after the latter withdrew with cramps.

Said Ruhi, who had lost to Qin Yi when they last met in the ITF World Junior Tennis trials: "I'm happy (that we won), because we brought glory to the school."

RGS captain Clarisse Gan and vice-captain Yurie Koey beat MGS captain Rebecca Loy and Deborah Theng 6-7 (2-7), 6-1, 6-3 in the doubles.

"We played better after losing the first set," said Clarisse, who suffered cramps midway through the match. "We felt that we had nothing to lose, and had more winners after that."

yuntingc@sph.com.sg

chingyl@sph.com.sg


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