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November 19, 2019
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Nordic Naturals Challenger all set for championships

The 32nd annual Nordic Naturals Challenger finals are all set in stone for championship Sunday at the Seascape Sports Club in Aptos.

Dominik Koepfer of Germany will take on American Steve Johnson in the singles title match, while Marcelo Arevalo of Spain and Miguel Angel Reyes-Varela of Mexico face Americans Nathan Pasha and Max Schnur in the doubles final. 

The day will begin with the Pink Day Tournament finals at 10 a.m., followed by the doubles final at noon.

The tournament will end with the singles finals, which will be played shortly after the conclusion of the doubles championship.  

Koepfer won the first singles match of the day Saturday against Ernesto Escobedo in two sets, 6-4, 6-3. 

Koepfer, who came in as the No. 4 seed, said a good start was the key to winning the match.  

“I played pretty solid. I saved a couple of break points in the first game,” said Koepfer after the match. “I found my rhythm and played decent. I thought I competed hard and found a way today.” 

This is Koepfer’s first trip to Aptos and first time competing in the Nordic Naturals Challenger. 

Koepfer is trying to get some more matches in before the US Open, which begins Aug. 26 at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing, NY. 

Koepfer has been training in Tampa, Fla. for the past 2 and 1/2 years after he spent four years in New Orleans where he received a college degree. 

Koepfer has also never faced Johnson, who came into the tourney as the No. 2 seed. 

It took less than an hour for Johnson to defeat Egor Gerasimov in two sets,  6-2, 6-1, in their semifinal match on Saturday. 

“I think (Gerasimov) was pressed a little bit, trying to do too much,” said Johnson after the match. “I tried to get him into uncomfortable positions in the middle of the court and maybe exploit his lack of willingness to come forward.” 

Johnson was asked what it was like to compete in Aptos’ annual Challenger and he said everyone has treated him incredibly well over the years.

In 2011, Johnson competed in his first tournament in Aptos but was eliminated in the opening round. He returned the following year and won the whole thing after he defeated Robert Farah of Colombia. 

“It’s California so it’s kind of close to home. I’ve had a lot of luck here so I’d like to get one more here tomorrow,” said Johnson after Saturday’s match. “Anytime you enter a tournament and you come out a winner, that’s the goal.” 

Arevalo and Reyes-Varela, which are the No. 1 seed in the doubles bracket, defeated Americans Nathaniel Lammons and Alex Lawson in three sets, 5-7, 6-3, 10-8, in their semifinal match.

Meanwhile, Pasha and Schnur defeated Evan Hoyt of Great Britain and Bernardo Saraiva of Portugal in two sets, 6-3, 6-4, to advance to Sunday’s finals.

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