SINGAPORE - In his first year competing in the Schools National Division tennis championship and, for the first time on Thursday (July 26), Matthias Wong was playing doubles in the tournament. To make things worse, the pressure was palpable as it was the C Division boys' final.
But the teenager and his partner Aaron Chiu, representing Anglo-Chinese School (Independent), displayed nerves of steel to win their match 6-4, 6-3, setting up their team's 5-0 victory over Anglo-Chinese School (Barker Road) at the Ministry of Education (Evans Road) courts.
The pair had trailed their opponents, Luke Eng and Martin Lim, 3-0 in the second set before rallying to clinch the win.
Matthias was fielded for the doubles on Thursday as ACS (I) coach Ang Hock Chai felt the boy's net play and serve-and-volley tactics could be an advantage.
The Secondary 1 student said: "We thought (the opponents would catch up)... we doubted ourselves because we felt so much pressure
"But we told each other to fight for every point and not to make unnecessary mistakes."
With the win, ACS (I) reclaimed the C Div title they last won in 2016 after they lost to Raffles Institution in the final last year. Aaron, who featured in last year's final, was relieved the pair pulled through.
"A lot of things could have gone wrong and the biggest challenge was the nerves - it was a very different feeling from the preliminary rounds," said the 13-year-old.
"Matthias and I just had to help each other and remind each other to stay calm and play our best."
ACS (Barker) captain Sameel Kai Sinnathuray, who lost 6-3, 6-1 to ACS (I)'s Adithya Suresh, said he was proud of his team.
ACS (Barker), who were third last year, beat defending champions Raffles Institution 3-2 to reach the final - a feat Sameel feels is the team's "most groundbreaking achievement".
"We didn't think we would get this far at the start of the year," said the 13-year-old.
"We definitely tried our best and gave it our all and maybe we're a bit disappointed, but we're still very happy."
In the girls' final on Thursday morning, Methodist Girls' School beat Raffles Girls' School 4-1 to retain their crown.