RADFORD — Central’s Michelle Kim started off slow on Thursday, and despite a strong second set, came up a little short.
The sophomore lost to Maggie Walker’s Samantha Finnegan, 6-1, 7-5, in the Class 2 individual singles state semifinals.
“I’m upset that I lost, but I’m still happy that I got this far,” Kim said. “She played great. I knew that her groundstrokes were better than mine. So I had to play defensive today and it just didn’t work out.”
Kim lost the first five games of the match. She lost the first set in 28 minutes.
Central coach Matt Smith said he felt like the sixth game of the first set, which Kim won, helped get her ready for the second set.
“After the start of the sixth game Michelle (Kim) started playing a lot better,” Smith said. “You could see it with the score. It was pretty much game for game after that.”
Kim took an early 2-0 lead in the second set and the two broke each other’s serves for five straight games.
Kim said she was pleased with her mindset after the first set.
“I just completely got the first set out of my head,” Kim said. “I forgot about it. I just told myself ‘play your best.’ You can get this second set and possibly win the third set. So I was just trying to motivate myself and trying to correct what I was doing wrong in the first set. And I played a little better.”
Kim led 4-2, but Finnegan won three straight games to take a 5-4 lead. Finnegan served for the match and had a match point in the 10th game.
Kim fought back and won a long game to even the set at 5-5 on an unforced error by Finnegan.
“That was a nerve-wracking game,” Kim said. “I really wanted to win it and possibly get the second set. ...I’m happy that I got that game.”
Kim led 30-love in the next game, but Finnegan bounced back and broke Kim’s serve on a double fault.
Finnegan then finished off the one-hour, 16-minute match in the next game with an overhead smash.
“I was hoping we would get to a third set and maybe have a different outcome,” Smith said. “But it didn’t happen today. She fought until the end, and I’m super proud of what she accomplished.”
Finnegan, a junior, beat Radford’s Kathleen Reuwer, 6-3, 6-4, in the Class 2 final for her first state title.
It was the second year in a row that Kim lost in the state semifinals to the eventual state champion from Maggie Walker. Last year, Kim lost to 2018 Maggie Walker graduate Anna Soffin.
It was the first loss of the season for Kim and her third overall in two years. The Falcons also advanced as a team to the state tournament this year for the first time in 20 years. Central lost to Maggie Walker earlier this week in the state semifinals.
“I’m extremely happy with the season, not just for singles but for the whole team too,” Kim said. “I’m really proud of the team for getting to states and I’m happy that I got this far, too.”