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Central freshman Kim excited for state singles tennis tournament

Michelle Kim Rich Cooley/Daily

WOODSTOCK – Michelle Kim is having an impressive freshman season, and today she’s looking to end it with a state title.

The Central freshman is playing in the Class 2 girls tennis state tournament at Virginia Tech. The semifinals are at 9 p.m., with the finals scheduled for noon.

“I’m nervous, but I’m excited to see that state level of players and how I stack up against them,” Kim said before her practice on Tuesday. “And I’m excited to just see how they are.”

Kim is 18-1 this season, with her only loss coming in the Bull Run District individual singles final to George Mason’s Maria Morris. She defeated Morris three times this season, including in the Region 2B individual singles final to advance to the state semifinals.

Kim has had to battle through two ankle sprains this season but said she got healthy at just the right time. She said she felt better in Region 2B individual singles tournament, which was played on May 22.

“I was worried that it wouldn’t heal, and I’m glad it did,” she said of her second ankle sprain. “It was a bit bumpy when I first started playing, but I think I got back in the groove. And I think I’m good now.”

In the regional individual singles semifinals, Kim beat Stuarts Draft’s Grace Cheung, 6-4, 6-3. Kim said it was a tough match against an opponent she didn’t know much about.

“She was a different player,” Kim said of Cheung. “I had never really played a player like her before. So that was different, kind of difficult. But it was a close match, and I’m glad I was able to finish it in the end.”

In the regional finals, she faced a very familiar opponent and Kim was able to prevail against Morris for a third time this season. Kim won the match, 6-2, 3-0, retired. Morris retired from the match due to injury.

“I knew what kind of player she was,” Kim said. “And I kind of knew her style of play. So that was really nice. And I’m glad I got that win.”

Kim will face her biggest challenge of the season today when she plays Maggie Walker’s Anna Soffin, who is the three-time defending individual singles state champion.

Ridgeview’s Riley Mullins and Radford’s Logan Graham will play in the other semifinal.

Central coach Matt Smith said that he went into regionals with no expectations for Kim and he will do the same for the state tournament.

“I’m excited that she is playing this girl who is as good as it gets – she’s a three-time defending champ,” Smith said. “I just want to see what that looks like. And then I’m excited and again I’m just kind of going in with no expectations – we’ll see what happens. Whatever happens, happens.”

Kim said she’s already reached her goal for the season and she just wants to stay relaxed and play with no pressure.

“No matter what the end result is, I’m just happy that I’m going to states,” she said. “That was my goal this year was just to go to states. So I’m already happy. I just know it will be a good learning experience. And I just want to see how well I do against them and just see what level I’m at compared to them.”