IHG 14/15: Badminton (F) Prelim 2

Written by: Shalom Alexandra

Edited by: Shervin Lim

On Tuesday evening, I made my way to MPSH 5 (location of numerous crushed dreams during finals) while nursing a bad case of recurring tonsilitis. The quest? To report on our female badminton warriors playing their second round of preliminaries for IHG against Sheares Hall.

From the moment I stepped into the ill-ventilated hall, it became clear that I was probably the most unfit person within visible range. That aside, watching our girls warm up gave me hope – lots of it in fact. There were 5 games to be played that night, and each game had to be won via the best of 3 sets.

1st Singles: Chen Xi

Chen Xi, the beloved captain and only IVP player of the KE team, was first in the lineup. From the onset, it was apparent that she had a certain dexterity about her, and that she was acutely aware of the court boundaries (I believe she has eyes on the back of her head). The very first match was arguably the most intensive one – it was our best against their best.

KE drew first blood from the start with powerful smashes, and her technique often caught the enemy off guard. At one instance, a point was disputed by the SH supporters, and the line judge (who was not actually watching the match) ruled in favour of SH. Despite her frustration, Chen Xi soon showed them who’s boss as the score shot up 11-3 to KE. I stopped counting the points after a while because she was scoring too fast for my typing. Before I knew it, the first set was already won, 21-11.

💁 Meh. Piece of cake.

💁 Meh. Piece of cake.

The 2nd set began with a particularly long rally, and it seemed for a moment KE was losing the lead. But Chen Xi was simply conserving her energy and soon scored consecutively against her opponent’s overenthusiastic smashes.

Two words to describe her style: SWEE LAH! 

Two words to describe her style: SWEE LAH!

In light of her personal accolades, it was probably just a particularly intensive training session to her. It did not take long for the scores to shift in favour of Chen Xi, 16-9 to KE. Chen Xi then proceeded to finish the game quickly, and the game was won, 21-11.

1st Doubles: Lucinda and Ling Shin

With two freshies untrained in badminton representing KE, the team treasured every point scored. Honestly though, they had no need to worry. I have heard of Lucinda being called a goddess (Editor’s note: Wonderwoman) but I did not see why until this match. When others’ rackets hit the shuttlecocks, the sound produced is at most a ‘thwack’. For Lucinda, I’m not even kidding when I say the sound is an actual BOOM.

Look at this shuttlecock. Now imagine it is your face. Tremble in fear.

1. Look at this shuttlecock. 2. Imagine it is your face. 3. Tremble in fear.

Her smashes were way too strong – the speed completely trumped the previous match’s, and that’s not an easy feat. Together with Ling Shin’s highly accurate hits and overall teamwork, the score was soon 12-6 to KE.

Unstoppable.

With the ferocity of Black Widow and the accuracy of Hawkeye

In the 2nd set, KE felt no need to relent. As before, the goddess of destruction had us bowing to her. More than once, the SH players had the shuttlecock shuttling zooming through their legs before they could even discern its direction. Our unstoppable team scored from start to finish and capitalised on SH’s increasing fatigue. The score? An insane 21-1. Can we give them a medal just for this already?

2nd Singles: Li Xian

Happily declaring that she was bringing a mao pai (imitation) racket on court, Li Xian sauntered onto the battlefield to face her opponent. To be honest, I thought she was going to snap out of her usual lecture-zombie self but she did not move very much at all while sending the SH player running all around the court.

I see no difference???

I see no difference???

To be fair it was clear the opponent was a newbie to badminton as she could not judge proper returns of the shuttlecock despite some commendable efforts. However, Li Xian still played well with a single-minded focus – her usual smiling face was replaced with an icy demeanor that was slightly terrifying. The 1st set was easily won 21-3. Quoting Nelson, she was the KE 魔鬼 (mo gui; demon).

In the second set, things were looking mighty fine for KE. The players switched sides and as per the previous match, the opponent was unable to push Li Xian out of her zombie mode. At one point when I cheered for her, I caused her to get distracted and lose a point (I think she’s going to kill me for this oops). With a score of 21-4, the third game of the night was won as well, to ecstatic cheers from the supporters. Our warriors have advanced to the semifinals!

2nd Doubles: Bridget and Hwee Chieh

KE’s squash captain (Hwee Chieh) and badminton newbie (Bridget) formed an unlikely duo for the 4th game. During warm-ups, Bridget caught a shuttlecock by Hwee Chieh with her forehead, causing the KE supporters to break out in giggles. Now that the night was already won, the girls went on court smiling. The 1st set was a point-for-point match but our girls kept their chill. Bridget executed some good smashes that put the first few points into KE’s pocket while Hwee Chieh put constant pressure on SH. Despite their best efforts, the set was lost 21-11.

With both sides smiling it was hard to tell who was actually winning as the 2nd set went on. But the KE supporters kept the spirits up; slowly but surely KE scored more and more points against SH. The synergy between our girls increased as the game progressed. Bridget had a one on one face off with the better of the Sheares players and, after returning multiple swift attacks, eventually won the point. (Great job there!) The second set went 21-15 to KE. From then on, the odds turned in our favour.

Bridget, our unexpected champion

Bridget, our unexpected champion

Hwee Chieh, ever ready to SMASH YOUR BALLS

Hwee Chieh, ever ready to SMASH YOUR BALLS

In the 3rd and final set, things kicked up a notch and no one was smiling anymore. The KE supporters screamed for every crucial point won, and the girls gave no quarter this time. The duo started to truly frighten SH with their delicate but calculated attacks. The score equalised at 10-10. Although Sheares took the lead momentarily, KE was not to be outdone and retaliated immediately. The score tied again at 16-16, and this was when the game became both intense and beautiful. Bridget was on a roll and Hwee Chieh offered the support she needed during attacks. After a long battle, KE WON AGAIN, 21-18. The girls embraced each other after the hard-earned and unexpected win.

3rd Singles: Mei Yi

In the last game of the night, Mei Yi felt pressured to keep up the winning streak against SH. This proved to be an unwarranted worry. With a strong early lead, she quickly sent the opponent falling over herself to return the powerful smashes. Flying a little with each smash, Mei Yi made us believe in the power of miracles. Soon, the score stood at 11-3 to KE. A little breathless at this point but still going strong, she held on to the lead after a brief time out. SH tried to gain an edge with more powerful smashes but this proved to be a bad choice as Mei Yi was, literally, harder, faster and stronger. The set was won easily, 21-5.

Little war dance she did in the midst of an airbending demonstration

Little war dance she did in the midst of an airbending demonstration

In the 2nd set, it was clear that the SH player was not inexperienced either as she put up a strong fight against KE. However, Mei Yi sent her opponent falling multiple times again; it was, in a twisted way, a beautiful match to watch; Mei Yi’s strategy is an art form in itself. Sudden and unexpected bursts of energy from SH kept the scoreboard flipping in and out of KE’s favour in this second set. Our female warrior became visibly tired and SH took the opportunity to score a couple of points. She seemed to have forgotten that KE had a closeted airbender on our side though – the shuttlecock was steered in erratic directions with the power of Mei Yi’s racket, and SH was unable to respond in time. KE’s points began to edge upwards again.

The nerve-wracking match continued in a point-for-point fashion, and at 19-17 (to KE), supporters started to stand up in anticipation. SH’s player fell again, and it was 20-17; game point. With bated breaths the last points were played out, and in a final mighty smash Mei Yi trumped SH once and for all with a score of 21-18. KE had achieved a clean sweep, winning all 5 matches of the night.

Sweet, sweet victory.

Sweet, sweet victory.

Congratulations to all players, and the badminton team sincerely thanks all who came down to cheer for them!

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Photos courtesy of KE Vision.

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