School sports: St Nicholas Girls' reclaim North Zone table tennis title; Catholic High retain boys' trophy

St Nicholas Girls' School's Charlotte Koh (left) and Tan Jing Han recorded a comfortable 3-0 victory in the second doubles. ST PHOTO: SAMUEL ANG

SINGAPORE - Minutes after CHIJ St Nicholas Girls' School (SNGS) won the North Zone B Division girls' table tennis title on Thursday (April 21), team vice-captain Chia Chern Yee burst into tears even though she did not feature in the final.

The teenager could not contain her emotions after going through a roller-coaster year with the team, who failed to retain their title last year as they finished runners-up to Yishun Town Secondary School (YTSS).

So it was sweet revenge for SNGS at CHIJ St Joseph's Convent on Thursday as they beat YTSS 3-2 to regain the B Division trophy.

Chern Yee, 16, who was part of last year's team, said she was proud of her teammates as she "saw the effort and determination they put into every training session".

The Secondary 4 student added: "A big difference is that last year, we were too emotionally invested. This time, we were able to put aside our emotions and even though we were still nervous, we managed to stay calm and play to our fullest potential."

SNGS captain Chloe Ong gave them the lead after beating Jodi Soo 3-1 (11-8, 6-11, 11-7, 11-5) in the first singles. But their rivals levelled the score in the first doubles before storming ahead 2-1 with Wei Hui Fang defeating Colleen Tan 3-2 (11-13, 13-11, 11-6, 8-11, 11-8) in the second singles.

SNGS pair Tan Jing Han and Charlotte Koh then recorded a comfortable 3-0 (11-7, 11-8, 11-2) victory in the second doubles to force the decider.

It was a game of patience in the third singles between SNGS's See Hui Yui and YTSS' Ang Wan Yu, with both players locked in long rallies before Hui Yui prevailed 3-1 (11-9, 11-9, 9-11, 11-8) to win the championship for her team.

Chloe, 16, said: "We were very disappointed last year and it was also a bit regretful. We've had this great determination (to win this year) and... we wanted revenge.

"While watching the matches after mine, I felt like my heart was going to jump out but I believed in them throughout even when we were lagging because I know that we trained very hard and hard work pays off."

In the boys' final, it was business as usual for Catholic High School (CHS) who retained their B Division title after beating YTSS 3-2.

In another topsy-turvy affair, both teams were tied at two apiece with CHS' Oliver Toh and Nathaniel Chua winning the singles matches while their rivals claimed the doubles.

It was a case of deja vu for CHS' Arifin Zulkarnain, who also played in the decider in last year's finals against Maris Stella High School.

And the 16-year-old delivered again, beating YTSS captain Sean Siow 3-0 (11-3, 11-4, 11-6).

Arifin said: "I felt a bit of pressure but it didn't affect me because we knew that we're the better team so if we played properly, we could win again. It's a good end to my B Division career."

Catholic High School's Arifin Zulkarnain in action. ST PHOTO: SAMUEL ANG

Captain David Ho, also 16, was pleased they achieved their goal of retaining the title. He said: "Arifin can perform under pressure while the other players might be affected and have shifts in their movement or playing but he can keep focused.

"It's sad that we won't get to play nationals this year but I'm glad for the opportunity to compete in the zonals and be able to work together as a team, especially after Covid-19."

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