Written by: Vivien Tang
Edited by: Ng Shu Chin
MPSH6 was abuzz not only with the chatter of players and the cheers of supporters but also with the sound of rattan balls being kicked, headed and blocked by sepak takraw players from all the halls. Some balls were controlled with amazing precision during the warm-ups, while others brushed over your head or came straight at you if players were a tad less careful, so it was a must to stay alert at all times for incoming rattan balls. After half an hour of warm-ups, the convening committee opened the game, with TH going against KR, and KE going against RH.
Prelim 1: KE vs RH
Overall Score: lost 0-3
Group 1: Tommy, Son, Faris
Lost 7-15, 13-15, 15-11, 11-15
RH led the game with some good placements, and, taking advantage of uncovered court areas, took home the first set at 15-7. The second set saw the rattan balls brushing over the net a few times, leading to moments of anguish on either side. It was a closer match, with KE losing the set at 15-13. The next set saw good and smart serves from both sides, with RH closing the score gap twice during KE’s lead. A spectacular save by Tommy gave KE our first win with a score of 15-11. However, despite KE’s best efforts to equalize with RH, we were 4 points short and RH won the match 15-7, 15-13, 11-15, 15-11.
Group 2: Chen Xi, Si Yuan, Ze Zhou
Lost 14-16, 15-12, 15-17, 14-16
RH kicked off the match with a good serve, and maintained their lead with the help of their no.10, who showcased some spectacular spikes. But our own Ze Zhou displayed good serves and quick saves to lead KE to 14-14. But alas, the game went to RH 16-14 thanks to their consistent play. Ze Zhou stepped up his game with serves that got better and better in the second set. RH faltered on some of their serves giving KE easy points. It was a tight match between the two. Our players equalised with a score of 15-12 to the delight of the KEVIIans present. Mistakes by both sides as well wide-angled shots made for close rallies, but alas our players lost both subsequent sets to RH with a score of 15-17, 14-16 after a brave fight.
Group 3: Jiang Tao, Xin Yuan, Zhi Yuan
Lost 9-15, 12-15, 15-12, 15-11, 10-15
The last matchup was also the closest matchup amongst the three pairings. The first two sets were bumpy, with unforced errors and service mistakes giving RH an early lead. RH wasted no time sealing two wins of 15-9 and 15-12. The unlucky streak was finally broken when our players weeded out their earlier errors, winning two subsequent sets at 15-12 and 15-11 respectively. The decider saw both sides plagued yet again by unforced errors, but RH managed to maintained their lead and dashed KE’s hopes with a win of 15-10.
Prelim 2: KE vs EH
Overall Score: lost 0-3
Group 1: Tommy, Faris, Son
Lost 4-15, 4-15, 4-15
EH took the lead early on, and while Tommy made a few sharp serves – including a low, long serve that took our opponents by surprise – EH barely gave any chances to our players and took the set 15-4. EH upped their attacking play in the second set, and, despite KE’s best efforts to defend, EH’s spikes were too tough to handle and the set went to EH 15-4. Though it seemed that EH were making more unforced errors in the final set, they kept their lead – and by forcing errors from our side with difficult shots – took the match at 15-4.
Group 2: Jiang Tao, Zuo Wen, Wang Bo
Lost 9-15, 4-15, 8-15
The match kicked off with both sides appearing to be equally matched, but gradually the more experienced EH players took and kept the lead, with their no.25 spiking the team to a win of 15-9. The second set was full of short, fast rallies, which broke our players’ defense and set EH on their way to another win of 15-4. Our players fought back in the third set, even using some “hand play” in an attempt – or rather, reflex reaction – to get the rapidly-spinning rattan ball over the net. EH proved why they were last year’s IHG champions by keeping their cool and taking the set 15-8.
Group 3: Ze Zhou, Si Yuan, Chen Xi
Lost 9-15, 8-15, 14-16
The last match of the day showcased EH’s consistent play once more. Ze Zhou showed off his passion and determination with a flying sneaker during the match, which – perhaps – spurred him and his teammates to produce some impressive shots throughout the match. Though they lost the first two sets to EH at 9-15 and 8-15 respectively, an improved performance led our players to close the gap with EH during the last set . Just when it seemed that we might win our first set against EH, EH stepped up their game and the pressure helped EH to seal the win at 16-14.
Our players might have missed the chance to enter the semi-finals this year, but the passion showed by our team was promising, and with a renewed fighting spirit and even sharper skills, next year might just be the year when KE graces the semi-finals of the sepak takraw tournament. As a supporter on the side-lines, I was made prouder after seeing all the effort our team – especially the seniors – put in to pass down a sport, a skill and more importantly, the spirit to fight for KE.
Photos courtesy of: KE Vision