Raffles Institution (RI) extended their reign on the badminton court yesterday, sweeping both the boys' and girls' Schools National A Division titles to complete the double for the third year running.
While the boys trounced River Valley High School (RVHS) 5-0 to retain their crown, the Raffles girls had to overcame a shaky start for a 3-2 win against the same opponents at the Jurong East Sports Hall.
River Valley drew first blood after Lee Si Min beat Shavon Ong 21-18, 21-11 but the defending champions regrouped from that early setback to win the next three matches to seal the tie.
Despite her loss, Shavon's fighting spirit spurred the rest of her Raffles team-mates, said doubles player Michelle Lee.
Michelle and partner Melissa Chua were in the second match and drew their school level after a 21-19, 21-11 win over the RVHS pair Sarah Chua and Yap Wen Shien.
"Even though Shavon didn't win, she tried her best and seeing her fight so hard gave all of us extra motivation to get it back," said Year 2 student Michelle. "I wasn't really affected by the loss because I was confident that we could do it."
Raffles then edged in front when Arielle Koh defeated Grace Guan 21-11, 21-9 before Tan Jeng Swan and Beatrice Cheng's 21-15, 21-15 win over Wong Wei Ning and Leow Gwen In wrapped up their third straight championship.
BOLSTERING TEAM SPIRIT
We put in more effort to get closer to each other, like going for team dinners often, so our close bond really helped us to fight together as a team.
TAN JENG SWAN, Raffles Institution girls' team captain.
River Valley's Ng Ying Han beat Rachel Tan 16-21, 23-21, 25-23 in the dead rubber.
Going the extra mile to bond the team had paid off, said RI captain and Year 2 student Jeng Swan.
"We put in more effort to get closer to each other, like going for team dinners often, so our close bond really helped us to fight together as a team.
"I'm really, really happy I ended on a high note since it's my last year playing for the school."
There was less drama in the boys' final, with RI dropping only one game en route to their fourth straight championship.
In the third match, Chew Wei Loon lost the first game 16-21 to Sean Ng before a timely change in strategy saw him take the next two games 21-13, 21-13.
The 1.66m Wei Loon, almost a head shorter than his opponent, said: "I realised I couldn't play strength for strength because he's so much bigger than me.
"From the second set onwards, I played more tactically. I could tell he got more tired than me towards the end. It feels great to win again, especially since it's my last year, and we worked really hard to continue our winning streak."