Asean Schools Games 2016

Asean Schools Games: A world of sweat and blood

Brothers and tennis players Jeremy (left), 16, and Jerall Yasin, 13, prefer to play singles rather than doubles. But they still spur each other on.
Brothers and tennis players Jeremy (left), 16, and Jerall Yasin, 13, prefer to play singles rather than doubles. But they still spur each other on.ST PHOTOS: MARK CHEONG
Tay Hui Wen (left), 15, has her sister's back during the table tennis competition. Hui Xin, 13, is competing in an international meet for the first time and is able to lean on her more experienced sibling.
Tay Hui Wen (left), 15, has her sister's back during the table tennis competition. Hui Xin, 13, is competing in an international meet for the first time and is able to lean on her more experienced sibling.

Singapore athletes can count on family members in the same sport for their guidance

Like American doubles players Bob and Mike Bryan, Jerall and Jeremy Yasin, both part of Singapore's 8th Asean Schools Games (ASG) tennis team, are brothers who compete in the same sport.

But unlike the Bryan brothers, who have paired up to win 16 Grand Slam men's doubles titles, Jerall and Jeremy are not partners. In fact, when asked if they play doubles together, 16-year-old Jeremy shook his head vigorously.

"We can't play doubles together, because we don't communicate well enough," he said.

Brother Jerall, 13, agreed, adding: "We always argue and blame our mistakes on each other."

The Singapore Sports School student also revealed training with his older brother could get competitive at times.

BROTHERLY ADVICE

Jerall is better than me so he gives me a lot of advice on how I should play against a certain opponent. Most of the time when he gives me advice, it works.

JEREMY YASIN, Singapore ASG tennis player, on his sporting relationship with younger brother Jerall.


DAD'S THE WAY

He... coached me when I was young, which was good because he corrected my strokes and built my foundation.

CRYSTAL WONG, Singapore ASG badminton player, on having former national shuttler Wong Kong Kay as her dad.

"Very competitive," he emphasised.

Said Jerall: "We're supposed to control the ball during some drills, but when one of us starts to hit a little harder by accident, we both just start attacking the balls.

"We always argue, but we usually forget it after staying away from each other for a while."

But despite their incompatibility on court, the Yasin brothers still support each other during tournaments.

Said Jeremy, also a Singapore Sports School student: "I think we're good separately, and Jerall is better than me so he gives me a lot of advice on how I should play against a certain opponent.

"Most of the time when he gives me advice, it works."

For Tay Hui Wen and her younger sister Hui Xin, who are on the Republic's ASG table tennis team, their involvement in the same sport has brought them closer.

Said 15-year-old Hui Wen: "We have one more thing to talk about now. We discuss our matches and the opponents we face, rather than just asking if the other party has eaten."

While they still disagree over "minor issues", their arguments are usually resolved after a day.

"Sisters always quarrel, of course, but it'll be all right in the end after we give each other space," said Hui Wen.

The Cedar Girls' School student is no stranger to competing overseas, but the ASG is 13-year-old Hui Xin's first outing at an international competition.

And Hui Wen, who watched Hui Xin's matches anxiously from the stands, has tried her best to guide her younger sister during her first overseas meet.

She said: "I help her with tactical planning, and when she's not playing well, I encourage her by providing positive remarks."

Also present at this year's ASG are Crystal Wong and Nur Insyirah Khan, daughters of former national shuttlers Wong Kong Kay and Hamid Khan, respectively.

But far from being weighed down by the expectations of being the children of former national athletes, the girls believe having a former athlete for a parent is an advantage.

Said 17-year-old Crystal: "There's no pressure from my dad, because he lets me do my own training without interfering.

"He also coached me when I was young, which was good because he corrected my strokes and built my foundation."

Team-mate Insyirah added: "Obviously every player feels pressure, and the expectation of having a former national player for a father gives me more motivation to work harder so I can play well."

Badminton team manager Lok Chee How, who knows both girls' fathers from his days of helping out in the national team in the 1980s, has advised his charges to take these expectations in their stride.

"How the players train and approach the game will show in the results; it's not about who their parents are," said the 53-year-old.

"It's natural for others to have expectations of them, but it's up to the players to turn it into a positive experience. What their parents have achieved shouldn't be a hindrance to their own goals and aspirations."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 29, 2016, with the headline 'A world of sweat and blood'. Print Edition | Subscribe