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Central’s Kim falls short in individual singles state semifinals

Michelle Kim Rich Cooley/Daily

Michelle Kim’s stellar season came to an end on Thursday.

The Central freshman lost 6-1, 6-0 to Maggie Walker’s Anna Soffin in the Class 2 girls tennis individual singles state semifinals at Virginia Tech.

“For the match, I was really nervous,” Kim said in a phone interview Thursday afternoon. “I was tight at the beginning and she was too, but she was a good player. And I could tell that she had a lot of experience. And I could tell she had more experience than me, and that’s probably why she won.”

Soffin beat Radford’s Logan Graham, 6-0, 6-1, in the final to claim her fourth-straight individual singles state title.

Kim had a 40-15 lead in the first game of the match, but Soffin rallied to take the game. Kim won the second game to even the first set at 1-1.

Central coach Matt Smith said that even though Soffin won the last 11 games of the match, Kim had opportunities to win more games.

“A lot of games (Kim) took it to deuce or had a (game point), but she just couldn’t finish it,” Smith said. “I think that’s where (Soffin’s) experience and maybe Michelle’s inexperience, where maybe she played a little tight and couldn’t close it out, was the difference in the match.”

Kim said Soffin had a different type of game than she was used to playing against.

“Her groundstrokes were solid,” Kim said. “And her ball – she put spin on it. And I didn’t really know what to do with it. I had never played a player like her before. So I think that made it really tough for me.”

Smith said he was very pleased with the way Kim played against such a tough opponent.

“I’m proud of her performance – just to get here was great,” Smith said. “And then looking at the other girls I was really pleased with how we looked even compared to the other schools that were here. It was a good thing to experience.”

Smith said he hopes next year they can return to the state tournament for singles, doubles and maybe even as a team. The Falcons were one win away from a state berth this season with a very young team.

Kim finished her freshman year with an 18-2 record in singles and she won the Region 2B individual singles title.

She said that the experience she had Thursday was a valuable one that will help her in the future.

“Today was definitely a good learning experience and shows me what I need to work on now,” she said. “And how good the players are at the state level. So hopefully I’ll be more prepared next year. It was a good experience. I’m just happy I got here and just seeing all the players here, and I had a fun time.”