A nervous Jovan Lee was about to step into the deciding fifth set of his match against Rudy Johari of Anglo-Chinese School (Independent) in the Schools National boys' A Division squash team final yesterday.
With the overall score tied at 1-1, the Hwa Chong Institution (HCI) student kept recalling his coach's words of encouragement as he re-entered the court at Kallang Squash Centre.
"He told me that this was the best match of my life and that whether we win the championship or not, it all depended on me," said the Year 5 student.
The 16-year-old started the final set slowly, though, trailing Rudy 5-3. But, as he looked to his teammates in the stands behind him, he knew he had to get the win.
He picked himself up and eventually won the set 11-8 and the match 3-2 to gave HCI a 2-1 lead.
"It was really tough because I played quite badly. My shots didn't really come through and my drops were bad but my drives made up for it," he said. "I was very distracted by my nervousness and I didn't know if I could win the decider. Thankfully, I pulled through."
Teammate Kieren Tan sealed the title when he defeated Ernest Chua 3-0 in the fourth match, before ACS(I)'s David Mow beat HCI's Daryl Chen 3-1 in the dead rubber.
Kieren, 17, said: "My opponent Ernest was my teammate in ACS(I) so I knew what it would take to beat him. I was also able to coach my teammates to play their best against our opponents.
"Having the knowledge of how the players play and how the coach coaches definitely gave us an edge over them."
Earlier, Ryan Lee beat Maximilan Yap 3-0 to gave HCI the lead while Matthew Wong levelled things with a 3-0 win over Bertrand Ong.
ACS(I) captain Zacc Chan, 17, was proud of his team for putting up a good fight in the matches.
He said: "Everyone did their best and fought hard. We really showed the ACS spirit of being supportive of each other. Even in the last match, when we knew we had already lost the title, everyone still supported David to the very end."