Written by: Tan Hui Xian
Edited by: Shervin Lim
I’ve always had an irrational fear for table tennis – the fast flying lightweight balls, attacking the opponent’s side with an area just slightly larger than my study desk. Thus, I foresee a tough job ahead as my first press duty of IHG 2015 (apart from being the occasional ball girl), just hoping that I won’t get a heart attack when the matches end. And yes, may KE Table Tennis win these matches comfortably, since we are the reigning champions for Table Tennis (Female).
The match took a while to start as there were some administrative issues to settle. SMC representatives Yuan Dong and Eleanor were collating the players’ details and pointed out that all the ‘next-of-kin’ blanks had captain Ling Yue’s name filled in. Beaming with pride, Ling Yue answered, “都我生的 (Translation: I gave birth to all of them)!” Often hear of couples dreaming of forming a football squad, but I guess a table tennis team works as well.
So without much ado, here were the team match-ups for that night:
- 1st Doubles: Kym and Yan Ting
- 1st Singles: Siow Ying
- 2nd Singles: Shane
- 2nd Doubles: Ling Yue and Jolin
- 3rd Singles: Jia Ying
1st Doubles: Kym and Yan Ting
It was almost 8pm when our first pair began warming up. Sheares Hall (SH) had the first serve for the opening match and won three points in quick succession. Yan Ting then won our first point as SH missed her fast flying serve. Following a few errors by SH, KE overcame the initial deficit with a score of 7-5. It was amazing how Kym looked so calm but instantaneously switched to a determined look as she served the ball, while Yan Ting had her usual smile on regardless of the situation. SH took the first game with a narrow margin of 11-9.
Shots were delivered across the table so quickly and points were awarded so swiftly that all I could do was just to clap seconds after the team clapped. The players have a tendency to hold the ball secretly underneath the table before they serve, as though imparting some superpowers to it. Past the random thought, I looked up expecting flames trailing the ball, only to see KE securing their first game 11-5. Gosh, this is too fast for me.
Kym forced an error from SH, who deflected the shot under the table, and tied the scores at 4-4. KE managed to secure another game point, winning 11-7 this time round.
It was soon 4-4 again for the fourth game. There weren’t any long rallies so far since most points were won via opponents’ error. Each team proved their capabilities as we tied 8-8 before a short break. SH scored a point immediately after the break but KE managed to secure the match point and game point within seconds, ending the match 3-1 (9-11, 11-5, 11-7, 11-9). Well done!
1st Singles: Siow Ying
I was wrong to say that the previous match was too fast, for this one was crazier. Before I could write down her name, it was already 3-2 to KE. A few forced errors from her opponent and the score jumped to 9-3. Then 10-3! Eager to end this game, Siow Ying sent her final shot down with a quick smack and took the game point. 11-3!
The second game was short and sweet. Not giving a chance to her opponent after SH’s first point, Siow Ying won this game 11-1. She won every point so easily and quickly that I just kept my hands wide open, all ready to clap every time.
Siow Ying’s service was extremely calm, making no mistake at all, hence she could lead 7-3. Coupled with another wicked return, SH could do nothing but catch the spinning ball frantically with her hands. 3-0 to Siow Ying as she ended this game 11-4.
2nd Singles: Shane
The first point was awarded to Shane as SH sent the ball flying to another table. It was 8-4 in just 5 minutes later. SH sent a spinning shot at high speed but missed KE’s side, fortunately for us. Hence, Shane led the game 9-5 which then progressed to 11-6 overall.
Meanwhile the concurrent match between Temasek Hall and Kent Ridge Hall heated up and supporters flooded into our area. Their players had their arms flailing out as they returned each shot furiously, resembling actions you often see in the Olympics. Getting past the sudden mob and rowdy cheers, Shane was leading 7-3 for the next game, winning 11-5 in the end.
Shane was leading 3-1 next for, hopefully, the final game for our second singles. After a long rally where both players cautiously returned each shot, SH finally made a net error, concluding the match at 11-4.
2nd Doubles: Ling Yue and Jolin
Next up, we had the captain and her apprentice. The game was rather swift as well as we led 3-0. Jolin tried to save an outward ball but could only turn around and give her usual sheepish grin. But all was well as we extended our lead, winning the game with a margin of 11-7.
One shot met the net and the score line was 6-2 to KE. A rapid fire and Ling Yue’s tenacity (along with really beautiful shots) won the point for KE and the second game ended 11-4.
Jolin and Ling Yue both showed great chemistry, forcing several errors from their opponents while slowing down the game a little (and I could finally catch a few breaths). Finallly, the match ended 11-7 to KE and the supporters made the winners give us a lucky handshake.
3rd Singles: Jia Ying
I was rather perturbed when Jia Ying stepped up for the next match, as I thought it would be the usual best-of-5. With a comfortable 4-0 lead for this team event, I expected the day to end. I was advised by Eleanor that all 5 matches had to be played no matter the results, in case a tie-breaker was needed.
For the final match, it was Jia Ying against SH’s captain. From the quick exchanges during warm-up, it looked like it was going to be an exciting match to watch. Indeed, the captain was a tough opponent as Jia Ying trailed 1-2 initially. However, she soon overturned the lead with a score of 5-3. The captain, Sylvia, was really aggressive as both took turns securing points. The final game point was a little hard as the margin was now 10-9 to KE. Luckily, I was saved from a heart attack as Jia Ying won the final point soon enough to conclude this game.
Next, the game progressed really slowly despite the fast shots – 3-2, 4-4, then 7 all, 9-7, 9-8, 9-9. Jia Ying began sending shots flying, increasing the intensity of this game, winning 11-9 once again.
Will the next game be the last game tonight?
SH did not let us off easily, as the score line went from 2-0, 4-2, 4-3 then 5-4. It was almost impossible to watch the match as it was too excruciating. 6-4, 8-4, alas 10-6. Getting closer! SH ruined my hopes as they secured two more points. Of course, the reigning champions proved their worth as Jia Ying took home the game at 11-8, and the team event concluded with a clean sheet of 5-love.
All the best for the route towards the finals, girls!
Photos courtesy of KE Vision.