By Royston Sim
MARIS Stella High (MSH) took less than an hour to regain the Schools National C Boys' table tennis title yesterday.
MSH, who won the title in 2008 but surrendered it to St Gabriel's last year, beat the Singapore Sports School (SSP) 3-0 at the Paya Lebar Methodist Girls' School yesterday.
They won two singles and one doubles match in the best-of-five tie.
'I'm very proud of my boys,' MSH coach Chen Wei said.
The doubles win was key, he added, as SSP had strong doubles teams while MSH's strength lay in the singles. He had spent the run-up to the final honing his doubles players' basic skills such as serving and returning, and it paid off.
SSP's table tennis general manager Dave Lai could not hide his disappointment. 'It's okay that we lose, but I wanted to see some fighting spirit. They let me down. They didn't push hard enough,' he said of his charges. 'Hopefully they will learn something from this loss.'
Lai felt his players were the underdogs coming into the match, as MSH had added four China-born players for the national competition. Two of them - Jia Haoming and Xiao Peng - helped MSH win the first two singles.
SSP's strategy was to win both doubles matches and one of the three singles, but that plan was thrown awry with the doubles loss.
'Our spirit was very high, and that helped us win,' said elated MSH captain Siak Yi Kar, who partnered Leow Zi Ping for the narrow but decisive 12-10, 14-12, 12-10 win.
For the C Division girls, Raffles Girls' School (RGS) defeated fierce rivals Cedar Girls' School 3-1 to retain their title.
The national title has gone to either RGS or Cedar since 2006.
After going 0-2 down, Cedar rallied to win the second singles.
But RGS won a tight second doubles match to triumph.
This article was first published in The Straits Times.