Throughout yesterday's Schools National B Division girls' squash final, a favourite cheer of the Singapore Chinese Girls' School (SCGS) supporters was how their fellow student Rachel Tan "takes no Ls".
The chant proved both catchy and prophetic. The 16-year-old never looked like losing as she eased past Methodist Girls' School (MGS) captain Michelle Lai 11-3, 11-6, 11-5 to make it 3-1 and secure the gold medal for her team at the Kallang Squash Centre.
Waverly Wu beat Gabrielle Chong 11-9, 11-3, 11-4 to repeat the 4-1 scoreline by which SCGS won last year's final against MGS.
Rachel, SCGS' vice-captain, pumped her fist and grinned at her supporters after finishing the season with a perfect eight victories.
"I was very happy because it's my last year in SCGS and I wanted to end it on a good note," she said. "I was nervous because it was the final, but I just told myself to do my best and forget everything else."
There was also added motivation for this SCGS team, who were runners-up to the same rivals in the C Division two years ago.
And they started strongly as captain Lim Yu Xuan and Hanaan Khaleel Hussein Abo Al Thinin both won their ties 3-0 to give the champions a 2-0 lead.
MGS' Cheyenne Mah halved the deficit after she overcame Felicia Ong 11-6, 11-8, 11-6, but it proved just a short reprieve.
SCGS captain Yu Xuan, 16, acknowledged that there was pressure to retain their title. But she coped with those nerves by focusing on each point in the match instead of the raucous crowd, whose cheers after every point drowned out the voice of the marker announcing the score.
Her MGS counterpart Michelle, 15, rued her jittery start. She said: "I know I started off really badly, so I had to calm myself and think because my brain was like TV static. I gradually managed to calm myself down, but it wasn't in time."
It was MGS vice-captain Erin Chan's first B Division match this year after recovering from a torn elbow ligament. But she was not disheartened by her loss to Hanaan.
The 15-year-old said: "I should be sad because it's our last year and I want to win, but I feel so proud after watching my teammates each break their own mental barriers.
"It's the friendship that will last. If I look back on this year, I wouldn't really care that I won or lost. I would care more that my team and I had so much fun together."