Written by: Shervin Lim
Edited by: Sarah Cheng
Two of the most intense battles fought by KE this IHG took place at MPSH 2 on 17 Jan — Table Tennis (M) and (F) Semi-Finals, both of which were played against Temasek Hall. As the returning Champion for Table Tennis (F), the pressure was on for our players to prove their worth at keeping the title. Easier said than done, the girls knew that the matches ahead were no mean feat, having lost several key members from last year’s winning team.
1st Singles: Jia Ying
The first singles of the night was played by resident Sports Director Goh Jia Ying, and she was up against one of Temasek’s finest. One hears that TH’s strategy was to cede the two doubles’ and dominate the three singles’ matches, which meant that all three singles’ matches were not going to be easy for our girls. Unfazed, Jia Ying entered the arena ready to put up a fight. And as predicted, the TH player came at Jia Ying with full force.
For the first set, both players seemed to hold back as if they were testing the waters, wary of their counterpart’s skills. The score was neck and neck at 7-7, before the TH player began to raise her level of aggression. Undeterred, Jia Ying responded with the same level of rigour; yet minor slips on her part often resulted in shots landing just beyond the table. These opportunities soon paved the way for the TH player to take the set at 11-7.
The second set saw Jia Ying rise to the occasion after some timely advice from her coach. Careful play allowed Jia Ying to close the gap of 2-8 to 6-9, but it was not enough as TH retaliated, ending the set at 11-7. The third set saw a gradual increase in pace, with rapid fire taking the scores to 4-6 and culminating in 11-7 to TH. TH took the match 3-0.
Match Tally: 3-0 to TH (11-7, 11-7, 11-7)
1st Doubles: Siow Ying & Yu Qing
Knowing TH’s strategy meant knowing how the next match would turn out. It was evident that TH had fielded their less-experienced players for the doubles, almost as ‘tributes’. Over the course of the night, the KE supporters also figured when to expect highly-skilled opponents from TH – whenever their white-dressed supporters multiplied threefold in numbers. Nonetheless, our players were not going to go easy on their opponents.
Much of the three sets could be predicted from the first set played between both halls. After ceding the first point, an intense discussion took place amongst the TH doubles’ players. Unaffected, Siow Ying and Yu Qing swiftly ended their ordeal with a score of 11-1. Good eyes from both players made the following set just as easy, with their opponents’ shots failing to connect with the table. The second set ended 11-3 to KE.
The final set was drowned in ecstatic cheers from the mens’ game, which undisputedly had garnered all the attention from the night’s crowd. Even as a flying ball from the guys threatened the safety of our girls, KE remained unperturbed whilst sealing the game at 11-2. However, the ending of the doubles also meant a return of formidable opponents alongside their greater legion of supporters from all corners of MPSH 2.
Match Tally: 3-0 to KE (11-1, 11-3, 11-2)
2nd Singles: Yan Ting
The second singles was played by Yan Ting, veteran member of KE Table Tennis, against yet another TH powerhouse. This was the set of ‘flip-table’ plays — plays so intense that the only apt response you could give after watching them would be to… flip a table. Unlike the first player, this TH player made no attempt to ‘test the waters’; instead, she was churning out waves right from the get-go. Riding on momentum, the TH player tsunamied her way to a set score of 11-4.
Reflecting upon the first set, Yan Ting was eager to turn the tables against her opponent, sending an incredible serve that secured the set’s first point for KE. The TH player, however, left no room for Yan Ting to breathe; she made full use of the table’s four corners to initiate her play of relentless aggression. While her complacence may have resulted in the score of 8-10 to TH, she proved ruthless in bashing her way to end the set: 11-9 in her favour.
By the time the third set came along, the table was a legitimate sweaty mess, gleaming under the lights of MPSH 2. A ‘eureka’ moment seemed to have come over Yan Ting as she resolved to play a long-drawn set, relying on patient serves and defensive plays. This proved effective, seeing as the score went 10-4 to KE. Although it took a while longer before she could end the game, the set eventually went 11-7 to Yan Ting.
Nerves plagued the fourth set for Yan Ting as she struggled to find her footing. After TH raced 6-0 ahead in the set, KE called for a time-out. The effect this time around, however, was minimal even as Yan Ting chased TH to a score of 4-8. TH recognized the threat and they, too, requested for a time-out, as if to break KE’s momentum. A tough battle ensued and ended 11-5 to TH, but Yan Ting deserved all the recognition for a game well fought.
Match Tally: 3-1 to TH (11-4, 11-9, 7-11, 11-5)
2nd Doubles: Kym & Jolin
TH was not ready to give up their second doubles without any resistance. Even as KE led the first set 7-4, TH found numerous openings that brought the scores to 8-8. Seeing that they had a chance, TH pushed on and snatched the first set from KE, 12-10. Recognizing the strength of their opponents, Kym & Jolin were eager to make up for their loss. Yet Lady Luck favoured TH and enabled their players to take the second set with 11-3.
Over the course of the break, KE regained composure and were ready to reclaim the following sets. And so they did, most impressively, with a score of 11-2 for the third set. In Hall Queen Sarah Yeo’s words: ‘Comeback is real.’ After edging ahead in the fourth set with a score of 11-9 to KE, the final set proved crucial in keeping KE in the competition. Neither Kym nor Jolin disappointed, as they closed with an impressive finish of 11-4.
Match Tally: 3-2 to KE (10-12, 3-11, 11-2, 11-9, 11-4)
3rd Singles: Yuquan
The final match for the night was watched by all of KE’s and TH’s supporters, both halls eager to enter the much-desired Table Tennis (F) finals. Even though the odds were stacked against KE, nobody knew what the final results would be until the two players had sparred against one another. To make matters worse, the deciding match for the mens’ semi-finals happened concurrently, and spectators had to hover back and forth to keep themselves abreast.
The TH player, like her team-mate before her, made little attempt to hide her prowess at the game. The level of precision she had instilled into her shots left little room for any mistake on Yuquan’s part. Expectedly, she dominated the first set with a score of 11-2. For the second set, Yuquan exemplified nothing but resilience against her stronger opponent. A minor stumble did not unsettle her, even as the set went 11-4 in favour of TH.
Unfortunately for Yuquan, she was clearly trapped between the wall of TH and a hard place. The unyielding aggressor of TH was determined to end Yuquan’s suffering, deftly manoeuvring the pace of the game. Minor slips by both players led to a brief score of 6-6, but the difference in skill was evident. TH quickly claimed the third set with a score of 11-7, and sealed their spot in the Table Tennis (F) finals.
Match Tally: 3-0 to TH (11-2, 11-4, 11-7)
Although the night did not go in favour for KE, our girls displayed incredible mettle, comparable to the Champion team from last year. A game well-played by both halls, we shall return ‘hungrier’ next year, and reclaim what we always believe is rightfully ours. That said, on behalf of KE, we would like to wish the remaining teams in the Table-Tennis (M) & (F) finals – all the best for the tough matches ahead. May the best team win.
Photos courtesy of KE Vision.