IHG 14/15: Table Tennis (F) Prelim 2

Written by: Shervin Lim

Edited by: Ng Shu Chin


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We’re here!

After an arduously long wait for the supporters’ van along with Shu Chin, writer of the Table-Tennis (TT) males’ article, and the rest of our numerable supporters, we eventually arrived (safely) at the SRC MPSH2. Realizing the match was going to start late as well, I wondered if there had been a daylight saving memo that I missed, or if everyone’s concept of time was simply starting to get Luffy-ish.

The game for the night, however, proved to be worth the wait as the KE TT girls brought down yet another competitor at this year’s Inter-Hall Games (IHG). The line-up for the evening comprised 4 veterans and 3 freshies, all of whom were remarkable athletes in their own right.

1st Singles: Yan Ting
1st Doubles: Jia Ying / Yan Ling
2nd Singles: Lingyue
2nd Doubles: Kym / Li Dan
3rd Singles: Siow Ying

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This is it, prepare for battle.

1st Singles: Yan Ting

Leading the team into battle was Yan Ting, pitted against arguably the best player on the Raffles’ team. Both players were head-to-head in their points for most of the first set, progressing from 3-3 to 4-7 and subsequently 9-9, proving that they were pretty much equally matched in terms of skill.

While the RH player remained unmoving in her play, Yan Ting, on the other hand, played aggressively in her attempts to stifle her opponent. Perhaps due to nerves, some of the shots flew right over the table and resulted in her conceding several points. Eventually, the RH player’s smash into the net enabled Yan Ting to take the set, 12-10 to KE.

For the second set, both players began to engage in table-edge gaming. Simply put, they were determined to land their shots as close to the edge as possible to prevent returns by their opponents. Yan Ting certainly proved herself to be adept at this ‘art-form’, taking the lead 7-4 as the RH player reverted to a more defensive play upon realization.

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No need for game face.

This change of play seemed to benefit the RH player, as she was able to goad Yan Ting into overextending her shots and recovering points for herself. After a series of breathtaking equalizers at 7-7, 10-10 and 11-11 respectively, RH managed to reclaim the second set for themselves, 13-11 to RH.

In the third set, Yan Ting started to adopt a similarly defensive style that saw a reiteration of an early lead, 7-4 to KE. However, RH quickly retaliated and their player was observed to be moving more than usual as she challenged Yan Ting with several difficult returns. Unfortunately, KE’s point lead was capped from there and RH retrieved the third set, 11-7 to RH.

Returning to the fourth set were two players eager to bring home the first match, but with strangely passive strategies. Long rallies became the norm for the set as spectators waited with bated breaths for either players to make a mistake. The scores went from 4-1 to 5-8 and 7-9, neither players willing to let the other off easily.

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*jaw drop* in the background.

Now that nerves were no longer a problem for Yan Ting, she was ready to take back what was rightfully hers. Taking the offensive, Yan Ting struck back with a series of rapid smashes that left the opponent distraught. A swift assassination enabled our KE veteran to make a comeback and enter the last set confidently, 11-9 to KE.

In the final set for the first match, fatigue was observed on both players’ faces. Even the umpire, who had painstakingly put on make-up for the game, looked tired and ready to move on. Still, the fight was tough and the scores climbed from 4-3 to 8-10 before Yan Ting finally sealed the deal for KE at 11-8.

The rest of the TT team were all smiles as Yan Ting made her way around the court and clapped the hands of her team-mates and supporters. Now that the tough game was won, the team was ever more determined to give their opponents a good showing. Coming up next was the freshmen pair of Jia Ying and Yan Ling.

Match Tally: 3-2 to KE (12-10, 11-13, 7-11, 11-9, 11-8)

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TT1101: Introduction to Table Tennis

1st Doubles: Jia Ying / Yan Ling

The pairing for KE was a curious decision, as we saw the rising Princess of KE TT Jia Ying alongside newbie Yan Ling, whose first time playing the game was during the KE Inter-Block Games. Nonetheless, it seemed that team captain Lingyue knew exactly what she was doing when the pair went into their first set against the RH doubles.

The attire for one of the RH players was also a curious decision, seeing as batik shorts paired with sneakers do not seem remotely sporty. For a moment, spectators wondered if the RH pair had been their best bet against one of KE’s finest. Observations aside, it seemed evident that that the skill level of both pairs was mismatched to begin with.

Most of the aggressive play for the game came from Jia Ying, although most of the points for the game were a result of service faults. RH seemed unable to deliver the shots across the net, making it easy for our players to take the offensive. Clearly owning the game, the KE duo kept the lead from 7-5 to 9-6, and subsequently took the set, 11-6 to KE.

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0% CA, 100% Final Exam. Ineligible for S/U.

After taking RH by storm in the first set, the second set seemed like a rainbow after the storm. RH could not recover from their defeat and was swiftly put down by Jia Ying and Yan Ling. The set concluded at 11-2 to KE (utter domination) as the RH players retreated to discuss their game plan for what was already fated to be the last set of the match.

Returning to the table with big smiles were our KE duo and their eagerness to devour the set. The RH player, after getting her shot across the net and garnering a point, gave herself an affirmative nod. That, however, was not enough to prevent our girls from winning; it was only a matter of time before we emerged victorious, 11-6 to KE.

Match Tally: 3-0 to KE (11-6, 11-2, 11-6)

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“Aiya, want to give chance also cannot.”

2nd Singles: Lingyue

Playing our third game for the night was resident TT queen and team captain Lingyue (alter-ego: Elsa from Frozen), whose icy composure and unrivalled skills often unnerved her opponents before any set was played. The RH representative’s expression gave away feelings of uneasiness and a low level of confidence.

Perhaps a strategy on RH’s part to pit their poorer players against our best, their player trailed behind Lingyue considerably as the score reached 9-5. It seemed like a bad plan in retrospect, now that they were down by 2 games and desperately needed to win. Predictably the set went favourably for us, 11-5 to KE.

The RH player seemed most unwilling to play the second set. Nonetheless, she played on and displayed commendable sportsmanship in the face of fire, or ice in this case. For a moment it seemed like Lingyue was going to score a perfect set, after she led the tally 8-0. Bless the lady for she relented and the game concluded 11-4 to KE.

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“I don’t even need to look at the ball to hit it.”

In the final set, it seemed evident that the RH player was out to have a great time, and so she did. Skipping her way to pick a ball after Lingyue shot her way to 6-1, there was no turning back for either players. It did not take a genius to realize that the game would end quickly, 11-4 to KE.

Match Tally: 3-0 to KE (11-5, 11-4, 11-4)

The umpire looked happy now that the game was progressing fast (or maybe she just desperately wanted to get home to remove all that make-up). Now that KE had won their preliminaries, the remaining matches could be played stress-free and this was evident from the faces of the other players.

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“Check out my ballet moves.”

2nd Doubles: Kym / Li Dan

Then came the matriarch of KE TT, Kym, and her ‘apprentice’ Li Dan. A powerful force from the get go, Kym and Li Dan took the reins for the set and never once faltered in their eagerness to win the match. In spite of several angry shots to the chest from RH, the KE duo kept the lead through the set and claimed it, 11-7 to KE.

In the second set of the non-decider doubles, Kym and Li Dan’s confidence exuded from their carefree faces as they raced to a lead of 7-3. Along the way, perhaps out of excitement, Kym occasionally sent the ball on a home run, yet the outcome of the set never wavered as the girls settled comfortably with a score of 11-6 to KE.

The third set, however, proved to be challenging as the opponents rode on the slips that the duo were making. Calls from the team for Kym and Li Dan to ‘slow down’ and ‘take their time’ were not unheard, but that spoonful of over-eagerness seemed to be doing them in as they were equalized several times, before RH reclaimed a set, 11-8 to RH.

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“Must keep… straight face…”

Unwilling to give RH any more chances, Kym and Li Dan reminded them of who’s boss when they raced to a lead of 5-0. Every move from then on was calculated and precise, although a few minor slips still showed up. Regardless, the duo eventually secured the fourth game when they won the last set, 11-3 to KE.

Match Tally: 4-1 to KE (11-7, 11-6, 8-11, 11-3)

Little did we know that RH had kept another good player for the final singles’ match, and were determined to cut their losses by denying KE a clean sheet. Meanwhile, other games ongoing at the MPSH were distracting the crowd and everyone had the idea that RH was simply going to give up their last set. We couldn’t be more wrong.

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Look at it go!

3rd Singles: Siow Ying

It was clearly not an easy game for freshie player Siow Ying, whose game face was on the moment she reached the table. Unusual serves and mistakes from both ends kept the scores close and distressing,  as we edged 2-3, 6-6 and 8-10 towards the game point of 11. It was unfortunate that the first set went 8-11 to RH.

The fearsome no. 10 from RH returned to the second set, resolving to claim the final match. Siow Ying, conversely, wanted to preserve the clean sheet left by her team mates and was ready to demonstrate her own prowess at the sport. Scores remained neck-to-neck at 6-6, 8-8 and 12-12; ultimately Siow Ying stood her ground, 14-12 to KE.

In the third set, we began to see a pattern similar to the first match played by Yan Ting. Both players seemed to mimic the play of their opponents and waited for errors to be made. What was different from the previous match, however, was that both Siow Ying and her opponent were equally aggressive on all fronts.

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Game face mode on.

As the game progressed from 3-3 to 6-6 and 8-6, Siow Ying rose to the occasion and began to deliver quick returns. These efforts were recognized and went largely unchallenged by the opponent, allowing Siow Ying to secure the fourth set for a game lead, 11-8 to KE.

The same could not be said for the fourth set, even as Siow Ying was putting her best foot paddle forward. The RH player’s game face was intimidating and so was her game-play. Eager for a comeback, the RH player smacked her way into a lead of 9-6, and eventually pushed both of them into a fifth set, 11-7 to RH.

Intense was an understatement for the final set that had everyone’s eyes back on the game. Taking a lead of 5-2, the RH player was confident and undeterred by Siow Ying’s moves. Every return seemed like a bullet and a time-out was called by Lingyue for Siow Ying to regain her composure. After some advice from Jia Ying and the rest of her team, Siow Ying re-entered the battlefield for the last time that night.

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‘Ji bai siao liao.’

Alas, it seemed as if the gods were not in her favour. Trailing 8-3, Siow Ying fought hard to find an opening back into the set but to no avail. The RH player kept the pressure and momentum as she bashed her way 9-3 and then 10-4. Despite Siow Ying’s best efforts, the set went 11-4 to RH, and KE was denied a clean sheet.

Match Tally: 3-2 to RH (8-11, 14-12, 11-8, 7-11, 4-11)

That aside, the KE TT girls kept their dominance in the IHG as they secured the game, 4-1 to KE. Other teams keeping a tab on the scores would realize that we are most certainly back to defend and retain our championship title. Good job girls, we are through to the semi-finals.

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See you soon!

Photos courtesy of KE Vision.

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