It was a proverbial battle between David and Goliath, but this time Goliath won.
Top-seeded Kimmer Coppejans of Belgium, the No. 200 ranked men’s tennis player in the world, put an end to 18-year old high school senior Keegan Smith’s attempt at winning the Bakersfield Tennis Open on Saturday night.
Coppejans handed his young amateur opponent a decisive 6-0, 6-2 loss in the semifinals of the USTA Pro Circuit event hosted by the Bakersfield Racquet Club.
“I think I just played a very good match,” Coppejans said. “I don’t think I made many mistakes. I was reading his serve well so I kind of neutralized his biggest weapon and I think that was key to tonight’s win.”
Coppejans will face second-seeded Dmitry Popko of Kazakhstan in the tournament’s singles final this afternoon.
Popko, ranked No. 211 in the world, defeated third seed Sebastian Fanselow of Germany, 6-3, 6-4 in the other singles semifinal.
The doubles final, which will precede the singles final, features the tandem of Smith and fellow American Patrick Kawka versus Chicago native Jared Hiltzik and Dominik Koepfer of Germany.
Both matches are free to attend.
Coppejans, who competed in the 2015 French Open, had little trouble dispatching Smith.
The 23-year-old with five Futures and four Challenger singles titles to his credit, was consistently accurate with all of his shots right from the start and won the first eight points of the match as Smith, ranked No. 1765 in the world, appeared to be nervous early on.
Eventually the 6-foot-6 lanky right-handler from San Diego settled down and started playing well, but by that time, he had already lost the first 10 games of the match.
Finally able to control his big first serve, Smith won two of the final four games.
Unfortunately for him, it was too little, too late.
“It was just a tough one today,” Smith said. “Kimmer played awesome...Not really my day. I didn’t play too great.”
Popko’s win over Fanselow was more hotly-contested.
The first set, which lasted an hour, was tied at deuce 15 times.
The turning point of the first set came in the fourth game, when Popko was able to break Fanselow’s serve and take a 3-1 lead just moments after he pulled out a 16-point third game.
Popko jumped out to a 3-1 lead in the second set and appeared to be fully in command of things.
However, Fanselow held serve to make it 3-2 and then broke Popko for the first time in the match to even things up.
The 25-year old German, who graduated from Pepperdine in 2013, held serve again to move ahead 4-3.
After that Popko regrouped and took three straight games to clinch a spot in the finals.
“He just a little steadier than I was today,” Fanselow said. “...He played a pretty clean match and was serving well. I didn’t really think I was in the match until I broke him in the second (set). I had a couple of chances there, (leading) 4-3 but he played really well when it mattered.”
Popko will be attempting to win his 10th career Futures singles title.
“I think it’s great,” Popko said of making it to the singles final. “I didn’t expect it. I was a little bit sick during the beginning of the week. I was not thinking about how far I would go so I’m very happy now.”
Popko and Coppejans have never played each other.
“We see each other regularly on the Challenger circuit or the slams qualifying so I know him pretty well.” Coppejans said. “I know what to expect. It will be a great match.”