SINGAPORE - It was the second set of their doubles match in the Schools National C Division girls' tennis final and the pressure was mounting on Faith Tay and Nadine Wong.
After winning the first set 6-4, the Methodist Girls' School players were 3-1 down in the second set against Faith Lee and Zhuo Zimo of Raffles Girls' School.
MGS were already up 2-0 in the best-of-five tie, courtesy of singles players Kayla Wong and Erin Lee. But MGS' other doubles pair, Gwyneth Khng and Nadia Penu, were down a set and their other team-mate, Sophie Chua, was fighting from 5-0 down in the second set of her match.
It soon dawned on all at the Yio Chu Kang Squash & Tennis Centre on Friday (Aug 12) that the title would likely be decided by how Nadine and Faith's match went and spectators from both schools started gathering around Court 4.
At stake: A chance for MGS to reclaim the title they last won in 2018. They had claimed four titles in a row up till then, before losing to defending champions RGS in the semi-finals in 2019 and later settling for third.
But the duo displayed nerves of steel, winning the next three games to put themselves 5-3 up and eventually sealing the match 6-4, 6-4 to help MGS clinch the title.
Sophie later triumphed 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 after being forced to a decider by RGS' Hannah Yeo. Dyanne Hsu and Sonia Loke then earned a consolation point for RGS with a 6-3, 4-6, 6-3 win over Gwyneth and Nadia to take the overall score to 4-1.
Nadine and Faith, who started working together at the start of the season last month, were ecstatic with their victory. However, they admitted they felt some pressure when it became clear the result of the overall tie rested on their match.
Nadine, 14, said: "There was a lot of pressure on us especially with the supporters coming around. The second set was really nerve-wracking but we stayed positive and told ourselves we could get it back.
"We were a bit off at the start of the match but we played off those nerves and it helped to hear the cheers, which motivated us to work harder."
To get back in the game, the Secondary 2 students also tried switching their positions on court to confuse their opponents. Instead of having one person at the baseline and the other at the net, both stood at the baseline and only went forward when necessary.
Faith, also 14, added that the team's close bond also helped them get through the season.
She said: "We stayed back in school to design the supporters' boards together and we would eat together after each preliminary round.
"These activities really helped us get closer to each other and that's really important because we know we can count on each other for support."
MGS drew first blood after Erin beat Lorraine Ting 6-0, 6-1, then doubled their lead through Kayla, who won 6-1, 6-0 against Sarah Qistina Sophian Hadi.
Despite failing to retain their title, RGS captain Eryn Ho, 14, was proud of her teammates for giving their all in their first National School Games outing.
She said: "We managed to bond more with each other and we're more united now. We're also really lucky that we can compete this year and it's the best feeling ever.
"It's really different from competing in an individual tournament because this is a team event and the environment is different because your schoolmates are here supporting you."