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(High tensions in the 3rd set which decided the final result between Hwa Chong Institution and River Valley High School. Photo Credit : Suresh Nair)

 

By Suresh Nair 

 

THE unexpected presence of principal Pang Choon How made a world of a difference, as defending champions Hwa Chong Institution (HCI) swept aside River Valley High School (RVH) 3-0 to win the grand final of the “B” Division Boys West Zone table tennis match.

What a clear difference the boss made in this five-tie encounter (3 singles and 2 doubles) as Hwa Chong commandingly controlled with 3 straight wins in the match, played at Yuhua Secondary School on 18 April.

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HCI skipper Chang Hok Xi and Cheng Xi Zhe (in Red) stay confident in the first doubles tie. 

 

Max Lei’s aggressive play gave HCI a morale-boosting 1-0 win over Bryan Yeo 11-9, 11-7 and 12-10. And it was further extended with the doubles’ pair of Chang Hok Xi and Cheng Xi Zhe overcoming Ayden Phua and Zhang Anyang 11-6, 11-3 and 11-7. The 3-0 match-clincher came when Aidan Ng got the better of Gabriel Ang despite losing the first tie. The match ended 11-13, 11-5, 11-6 and 11-6.

“The presence of Mr Pang clearly boosted the players’ morale for this fitting defending of the title,” said HCI teacher Pek Ru Heng, who had expected the final to go to 5 matches.

(For all the news, post-match interview videos, stories, photos, fanzone details and much more from the 2022 National School Games, do visit our website : go.gov.sg/nationalschoolgames)

HCI skipper Chang Hok Xi admitted that team-preparations were not at an “optimum this year because of Covid-19 and other distractions”. He added, “But we rallied together to come out fighting and the presence of the principal was a shot-in-the-arm for the players. They truly rose to the occasion for this 3-0 victory.”

In table-tennis, or pingpong as commonly known, a good serve can gain a quick advantage over the opponent. And that’s what China-born coach Yang Zi stressed in his opening remarks to always hold the ball flat in the palm of your hand and above the table in a confident manner.

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(HCI China-born coach Yang Zi gives valuable tips during the break. Photo by Suresh Nair)

 

“Having a good coach at the sidelines helps a lot and his pep-talks boosted the players to make this final look rather easy, if you go by the scores,” said Hok Xi. He said he played the doubles game as it can be more “exciting than the singles…as I enjoyed the “team” aspect as well as the faster movement involved and the emphasis on ball placement”.

“The teamwork and confidence matters and I must commend the players, coaches, teachers and even the principal for this deserving victory which puts Hwa Chong Institution among the pingpong leaders,” said Hok Xi.

For the record, the 2nd doubles and 3rd singles were not played, after the Hwa Chongians got to an overwhelming 3-0 lead in this five-match competition.

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HCI teacher Pek Ru Heng (2nd from right) with Principal Pang Choon How (extreme left) and skipper, Chang Hok Xi (2nd from left).

 

The final word from principal Pang Choon How: “Congratulations to the team, they played their best in the final and got the right result to make Hwa Chong Institution continue to fly the table-tennis flag high.”

(For all the news, post-match interview videos, stories, photos, fanzone details and much more from the 2022 National School Games, do visit our website : go.gov.sg/nationalschoolgames)

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