SINGAPORE - Defending champions Nanyang Girls' High School had already trounced Nan Hua High School 5-0 in the quarter-finals of the Schools B Division West Zone girls' badminton competition earlier this year.
The Nanyang Girls' juggernaut picked up where it left off in the final at River Valley High School on Thursday (April 29), rolling to a 4-1 win over the same opponents.
Nanyang Girls' Png Si Ying drew first blood, beating Cheng Ai Jia 21-4, 21-4 in the first singles.
But teammates Wang Yixuan and Chloe Lim were made to sweat by Nan Hua's Anthea Quek and Lim Cui Wei in the first doubles. They clinched the first game 21-18 before dropping the second 19-21. With all to play for in the third, they managed to regain their composure to prevail 21-14 and put Nanyang Girls' 2-0 up.
"I just kept telling myself that I could do it, to encourage myself to play better." said Yixuan, 15.
Chloe, 15, added: "The cheering from my teammates also encouraged me to push on. The coach's guidance was crucial too, as it gave me more confidence to play better."
Grace Tan then gave Nanyang Girls' an unassailable 3-0 lead in the best-of-five final with a 21-8, 21-16 win over Chai Ai Min.
The second doubles also went the favourites' way with Jasmine Chu and Tan Wen Shin running out 21-13, 21-13 winners over Tee Kai Xin and Koay Pei En.
But Koh How Wun prevented Nanyang from claiming a clean sweep, bravely battling Chua Yee Ling in a back-and-forth affair before walking away a 21-17, 11-21, 21-19 winner.
Nanyang Girls' captain Kong Ying Yi admitted that the final was tougher than the quarter-finals because the line-ups for both teams were different and some of her teammates had to face "slightly harder opponents". Nevertheless, she was pleased with her team's performance and effort.
The 16-year-old added: "Even though there are no national (rounds) this year, it is quite lucky that we at least have zonals to play in. This is the last year for some of us, so it's great that we can have this last chance to represent our secondary school and experience playing in a competition."
In spite of the loss, Nan Hua captain Kai Xin was proud of the strong fight her teammates had put up. The Secondary 4 student said: "Despite our opponents being the strongest team in the West Zone, we did not give up and just tried to fight and win as many points as we can. Our team did very well in the end to win the last singles.
"As our mid-year exams are just around the corner, it was really tough to have to juggle between our studies and badminton and we ended up having to miss many classes as well. It is really great that the team did not give up and supported one another throughout the whole time."
Third place went to River Valley High, who beat Commonwealth Secondary 3-2.
In the North Zone, CHIJ St Nicholas Girls' beat Singapore Chinese Girls' 3-2 to claim the title.
Xin Min Secondary beat Bowen Secondary 4-1 in the battle for third place.