Over six years, Kan Weng Yean has gone from crashing out in the early rounds of squash tournaments during his initial years to leading his team to their first Schools National C Division Boys' squash title since 2010.
The 14-year-old student-athlete's passion for the sport fuels his desire to keep improving.
He told The Straits Times: "I found the sport really enjoyable despite the fact that I lost in competitions... I still had a lot of fun playing with my neighbours and my family, so that kept me going.
"The best thing squash has taught me is that hard work pays off and, if you work hard, you can succeed in anything."
During the final of the Schools National C Division championship in August, Weng Yean, captain of the Anglo-Chinese School (Independent) team, took to the court as his side trailed 0-1 against Fairfield Methodist Secondary School.
Despite feeling the pressure, he revealed he had been inspired by team-mate Benjamin Koh's performance in the opening match.
"(Benjamin) played against that opponent many times before, each time losing 0-3, but this time, he was able to take two sets off his opponent, which was really remarkable," said Weng Yean.
"That motivated me to fight as hard as he did and I knew that if I won, the rest of my team-mates should be able to win as well. That's what made me fight."
Weng Yean won his match to level the score, and victory was sealed after his team-mates Joshua Lim and Edward Thng won their respective matches. A dead rubber was won by Fairfield.
For the improvement he has made, Weng Yean won The Straits Times Young Star of the Month award for school athletes. The award is an extension of ST's Star of the Month and Athlete of the Year awards. Both are backed by F&N's 100Plus.
HAVE WILL, WILL WIN
The best thing squash has taught me is that hard work pays off and, if you work hard, you can succeed in anything.
KAN WENG YEAN , captain of the ACS(I) C Boys' squash team, on how he became a better player despite early failures.
Said ST sports editor Lee Yulin: "In an age where distractions are many, Weng Yean's love for and dedication to squash is uncommon.
"I am glad that this passion has motivated him to keep plugging on despite his initial setbacks.
"He will go far with such determination and we hope to see more of him in the future."
Weng Yean, who trains almost every day, reckons he might play the sport "for the rest of my life".
"Maybe when I enter the workforce, I might cut down on the number of competitions I play in. But, for now, I'll be playing as often as I do now," he added.
To him, the toughest part about squash is finding sparring partners, but he prefers to look at the positive side of things.
"That's actually an upside because it provides an opportunity for 'self-development' and you can still practise by yourself, as compared to other sports where you may need a partner or someone to feed the ball to you," he added.
His teachers and coaches describe him as a well-mannered boy, with ACS(I) squash coach Victor Koh noting that Weng Yean's sense of responsibility is rare for a boy his age.
Said Koh, 55: "He helps out with things like opening the courts, cleaning up and getting the team to train together, and the boys don't have a problem with him.
"He's very responsible - he follows through with whatever instructions I pass down, which I don't see in a lot of boys."