School sports: Schoolgirl Jeovanne Poernomo stars as RGS ends MGS's dominance in B Div tennis

Raffles Girls' School's B Division players celebrating after clinching the winning point in the final against Methodist Girls' School.
Raffles Girls' School's B Division players celebrating after clinching the winning point in the final against Methodist Girls' School.ST PHOTO: CHEW SENG KIM

Raffles Girls' School (RGS) tennis player Jeovanne Poernomo may have won her singles tie at last year's National C Division final. But she still felt powerless, as her team lost both doubles matches and eventually the title to fierce rivals Methodist Girls' School (MGS).

The Secondary 3 schoolgirl, ranked second in the Singapore Tennis Association Under-16 list, knew a change in strategy was needed against the same opponents in yesterday's B Division final and partnered Shirina Mulani in the doubles instead of competing in her usual singles match.

The gamble paid off as they beat the pairing of Natasha Loh and Emma Collins 6-4, 6-4 in the fifth and deciding match at the Kallang Tennis Centre to secure RGS a 3-2 victory over MGS.

BACK IN THE SPOTLIGHT

We've been bridesmaids for so long, we're a little sick of it already.

GARY TAN, RGS coach, on not winning the B Division title for the past five years.

UNEXPECTED MOVE

We were caught by surprise by their change in line-up.

NATASHA LOH, MGS tennis player, on why they lost the final.

It ended MGS' five-year stranglehold of the B Division crown and was RGS' first since 2010.

Said Jeovanne, 14, who came to Singapore from Indonesia when she was two: "Before the season started, I suggested the move to play doubles this year. We didn't want a repeat of last year. I'm glad the switch turned out well and I could win it for the team."

The presence of Jeovanne, a strong presence at the net, was critical, noted her partner Shirina.

Added the Secondary 4 student: "All I had to do was to get my shots and my serves in, and I knew that I could rely on her (Jeovanne's) volleys... I was hoping I wouldn't choke."

Hours of practice to ensure both girls were comfortable playing with each other finally paid dividends, noted RGS' coach Gary Tan.

"We worked hard to strengthen our doubles game and spent the bulk of our time on it at practice - more than singles.

"We've been bridesmaids for so long, we're a little sick of it already."

The beaten MGS team were gracious in defeat as they joined the champions for a group photo.

Said MGS' Natasha: "We were caught by surprise by their change in line-up. It's disappointing, but we will still have no pressure next year, because we're not the favourites to win. We hope to win it back."

In the B boys' final, Anglo-Chinese School (Independent) kept their crown with a comfortable 5-0 win over ACS (Barker Road) to secure their third title in four years.

Said ACS(I)'s Shawn Ng, the Republic's top-ranked Under-16 boy: "I think we were mentally stronger today, that's why we could come out on top. It's a good start to the year for our school."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 23, 2016, with the headline 'Jeovanne stars as RGS end MGS' dominance'. Print Edition | Subscribe