The on-court chemistry between Anglo-Chinese School (Independent) doubles duo Joshua Tan and Julian Cheng proved decisive yesterday as they led their team to victory in the Schools National A Division tennis championships.
With ACS (I) and Raffles Institution splitting the first four matches of the final at Kallang Tennis Centre, it came down to the deciding fifth match against the Raffles pair of Ashton Tan and Wesley Wong .
Joshua and Julian prevailed 7-6 (7-5), 4-6, 6-0 to deliver ACS (I)'s third straight A Division boys' title.
Said 18-year-old Joshua: "We like to play aggressively, so we tried to up the tempo of the game, we tried to keep the points short.
"We knew that we probably wouldn't be able to handle long rallies all the time. We tried to come up with volleys often throughout the match."
Straight Schools National A Div boys' tennis titles won by ACS (I).
Volleys might be his speciality, but team-mate Julian's good baseline ability was equally important.
Julian, 17, who picked up the game at nine, said: "I kept the ball in play to give Joshua opportunities to finish off the point."
Having trained together for the past five years, the duo noted that their friendship at ACS (I) has helped their partnership.
Joshua said: "We're able to tolerate each others' mistakes. But we also know how to motivate each other and we're not afraid to be honest about what the other person is doing badly during a match."
ACS (I) coach Ang Hock Chia was delighted with his players' performance.
He said: "It's not easy. They played well. I was (always) confident that these guys would win. I'm happy with how they carried out the plan, which was to keep things simple and not play fancy tennis."
Despite the narrow loss, there was still plenty to celebrate for the Raffles team. Their A Division girls' team beat Hwa Chong Institution 4-1 in the final to notch their seventh consecutive title.
The impressive streak was not trouble-free, said RI girls' captain Ng Qin Yi. The 18-year-old explained: "We met them in the quarter-finals and we won so there was a lot of pressure on us to win again.
"(For) a lot of us, it's our last match. Our coach told us to play our best and give it our all."