Monthly Archives: January 2009

Mano pairs: Irujo rains on Patxi's parade

Friday 30th January
Remontival, Estella

This has been a horrible tournament for Asier Olaizola and Patxi Ruiz. Coming into this match they had three losses to their names and one solitary win which they managed simply because their opponents were even worse than they were. This may seem harsh but one might have expected more from this Asegarce pair who have clear championship pedigree: Olaizola is a former pairs champion, albeit ten years ago, and Patxi has a manomanista title to his name, but despite these seeming stamps of quality they have looked disorganised, ill at ease and out of sorts. What would it take to lift them? Their supporters were surely hoping that this match would give them some form of home advantage; Patxi Ruiz was born in Estella and clearly, judging by some vociferous chanting of his name, he still has his fans in the Navarrese town. But if a homecoming victory were to be enacted, Juan Martinez de Irujo had clearly not read the script.

Honours appeared even in the first two points. Irujo tested Patxi by hitting long but in contrast to previous weeks, the local boy seemed solid despite eventually ceding the point when he found himself too far forward. In the next play, Irujo missed a wide open space and an obvious winner to tie the game. Would this most mercurial of pelotaris have another off-night? The answer was unequivocally in the negative. Irujo ruled the front half of the playing area and suffered nobody to encroach on his territory. He served superbly and swiped the ball in all conceivable directions throughout the encounter, hitting with such arm swinging force that one almost feared for his shoulder. Whether slinging the ball into the corner and sending Patxi skidding on his front in a hapless dive or repeatedly whipping it past Olaizola at an impossible angle, Irujo ran rings around his adversaries. It would be unfair to say that Olaizola was bad; he did prove able to beat Irujo at his own game with a stinging gantxo of his own and in many of the long points which characterised the middle section of the game appeared to be a match for him, but he did not seem capable of shutting him down or outmanouvering him. He also made significantly more errors than his opponent, and often at extremely unfortunate moments; instead of making the Aspe pair fight for the final few points, two Olaizola misses made a present of the win.

Aspe also held all the aces in the defensive play, where Fernando Goni was simply stunning. His long range hitting was so accurate and powerful that he had a nonchalant answer to everything Asier and Patxi could throw at him. After Irujo’s opening salvo, kudos must be given to the Asegarce pair for their change in tactics. Realising that they needed to nullify the Aspe forward, they began hitting long to pressurise Goni, a similar ploy to that adopted by Xala and Laskurain in their recent defeat of the defending champions. However, whereas Oier Mendizabal succumbed to the pressure, Goni continued in his role as human metronome and returned everything that came his way, with interest. Asier and Patxi won two mammoth points in a row during this passage of play, but as a consequence of hard work and determination rather than any mistake from Goni. They looked elated to have troubled the scoreboard but the effort it had taken must have registered in their minds. In contrast, the Aspe pair won points almost at will.

Patxi Ruiz was not in the same league as Goni, although he played rather better than in recent weeks. As the game proceeded, more and more of his long balls bounced short. He did show quite some determination, notably with the score at 2-5 against him when he returned two seemingly impossible balls to the delight of the crowd but ultimately, the consistency was lacking. In the face of Irujo, it was no wonder that he succumbed to demoralisation and it was thanks to him that the game went out with a whimper; his half-hearted effort to retrieve a ball hit down the wall betrayed a man who knew he was beaten.

So, Estella’s own could not stop the rot and he and Olaizola remain firmly rooted at the bottom of the table. Meanwhile, given the scale of this victory, Irujo and Goni are now primed to climb higher. They will have to wait for this weekend’s remaining matches to see whether this will become reality, but if Irujo continues in this vein, the sky could well be the limit.

Irujo was on song in Estella

Irujo was on song in Estella

Image from:–253×330.JPG

Frontenis: The first newsletter dedicated to Frontenis is just issued

The first newsletter dedicated to Frontenis is just born. It is a newsletter of just 4 pages with small articles about Frontenis and the world of Fronton and it constitutes the first experience of this type in Frontenis.
For me it is clear that know the matches are not just played in the court (Fronton) but also in the media. For those that do not have direct access to big public via TV, newspapers Internet is the solution. You can now make your own publication and distribute it via all dissemination channels that Internet offers.

I would like to invite you to have a look at it. There is one inconvenient… it is fully written in spanish. We hope that in the near future we can make two versions of the newsletter, in english and in spanish.


You can find the newsletter here.

Mano pairs: matches this weekend

Friday 30th January
Remontival, Estella
22:15 Campeonato Parejas LEP.M
Broadcast on the web at ETB-SAT

Saturday 31st January
Igarondo, Idiazabal
18:00 Campeonato Parejas LEP.M
No webcast

Labrit, Pamplona
18:00 Campeonato Parejas LEP.M
No webcast

Sunday 1st February
Astelena, Eibar
17:00 Campeonato Parejas LEP.M
Broadcast on the web at ETB-SAT

*Zubieta replaces Laskurain, who is injured

For Spanish viewers, a more extensive television schedule can be found here:

Patxi Ruiz plays in his home town of Estella on Friday

Patxi Ruiz plays in his home town of Estella on Friday

Image from:

Mano pairs: standings after week four

As we move into the fifth week of the pairs championship, three partnerships are equal at the top of the table, separated only by points difference. Snapping at their heels are two pairs who are still very much in the fight. The three bottom pairs would now need a significant turnaround to have any hope of qualification.

There are no clear favourites at this stage. Up until last week’s injury to Sebastian Gonzalez, he and Abel Barriola formed the most consistent and seemingly dominant partnership. However, their bid for the title was temporarily derailed in round four as Mikel Olazabal, the substitute, was not able to live up to the standard of the player he replaced when faced with a salvo from a white hot Aimar Olaizola. Much will depend on Gonzalez’s state of health. Titin and Pascual lost narrowly in week one but since then have gone from strength to strength. The only pair to have beaten them are the defending champions, who currently lie third. With the exception of their bafflingly bad loss to Xala and Laskurain, Olaizola II and Mendizabal II have played a strong tournament and look to have grown in confidence and form since then. The top three must be considered the favourites to progress but it is all to play for. Martinez de Irujo and Goni III, who have been erratic up until now, may prove to be dark horses, if Irujo can consistenly play as we know he can. All we know is that the drama will play itself out and that in three weeks, eight pairs will become four.

Columns indicate: matches played, matches won, matches lost, points for, points against, total league points


1. Titín-Pascual                         4 3 1 87 67 3

2. Gonzalez-Barriola                 4 3 1 76 60 3

3. Olaizola II-Mendizabal II      4 3 1 76 69 3

4. Berasaluze VIII-Begino        4 2 2 76 71 2

5. Martinez de Irujo-Goñi III    4 2 2 70 75 2

6. Xala-Laskurain                     4 1 3 78 76 1

7. Bengoetxea VI-Beloki          4 1 3 64 74 1

8. Olaizola I-Patxi Ruiz             4 1 3 62 87 1

The top 4 pairs qualify for the semi finals

The 2008 champions enjoy their moment

The 2008 champions enjoy their moment

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Mano pairs: Olaizola I and Patxi Ruiz record first win in dismal game at Beotibar

Monday 26th January
Beotibar, Tolosa
Olaizola I/Patxi Ruiz beat Xala/Laskurain 22-21

Asier Olaizola and Patxi Ruiz can afford themselves a sigh of relief at finally opening their account in this year’s championship but there will be little satisfaction in it, for this was one of the worst matches the competition has seen in some time. The crowd at Beotibar witnessed a catalogue of errors, numbering 23 across the four competitors, from start to finish. The worst of the play came from the two defenders, Patxi and Laskurain. Laskurain did however have something of an excuse, having injured his right hand with the score at 13-13, leaving Xala working overtime in a futile attempt to compensate. This was the chance that Asier and Patxi craved; surely all they had to do was to wait for the afflicted and increasingly despondent Laskurain to make errors? But they could not capitalise, failing to exert any meaningful pressure on their labouring opponents. A string of errors from Patxi Ruiz took the score to 18-13 in Aspe’s favour but Laskurain then took his turn to miscue, allowing the gap to close to 21-20 before he gave the victory away. Even his uninjured hand could not save him from a very public purgatory. The Asegarce pair took the winners’ point simply because someone had to be the first to reach 22.

Aritz Laskurain will be out of action for at least a week and possibly two. His place will be taken in the next round of matches by Aitor Zubieta.

Scoring sequence (Olaizola I/Patxi Ruiz first):
0-6, 6-6, 6-7, 7-7, 7-10, 9-10, 9-11, 11-11, 11-12, 12-12, 12-13, 13-13, 13-18, 16-18, 16-20, 20-20, 20-21 and 22-21

Aritz Laskurain, in happier times

Aritz Laskurain, in happier times

Mano pairs: Irujo and Goni contain comeback at Astelena

Sunday 25th January
Astelena, Eibar
Martinez de Irujo/Goni III beat Bengoetxea VI/Beloki 22-18

It was the Aspe partnership of Juan Martinez de Irujo and Fernando Goni who took home the spoils on Sunday, defeating Oinatz Bengoetxea and Ruben Beloki in Eibar. Irujo found the ability to direct the game and manipulate his opponents as he chose and selected his shots well. Particularly impressive was his tactic of punishing Beloki with the long ball. Goni, who gets better as the tournament progresses, played an excellent supporting role, easily bettering Beloki, who never found his stride. Bengoetxea committed too many errors to exert enough pressure on Irujo and later confessed to nerves in the early part of the match. He did engineer a late comeback, playing with determination to reduce the deficit from 11-18 to 18-21 but Irujo’s timely brilliance eventually won the day.

In terms of the overall standings, Irujo and Goni have done their chances of qualification no harm at all but the top of the table is congested and no pair can afford to relax for so much as a second. They are now tied in terms of points with Berasaluze VIII and Begino as both pairs have won two matches and lost two. Three pairs are tied, one point ahead. It is all to play for. Bengoetxea and Beloki on the other hand languish in seventh place; there is now little hope for them.

Scoring sequence (Bengoetxea VI/Beloki first)
1-0, 1-5, 3-5, 3-6, 5-6, 5-8, 6-8, 6-9, 7-9, 7-12, 8-12, 8-13, 10-13, 10-16, 11-16, 11-18, 12-18, 12-21, 18-21 and 18-22.

Juan Martinez de Irujo

Juan Martinez de Irujo

Source: Diario Vasco

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Mano pairs: Aimar too hot for Olazabal

Saturday 24th January
Villa de Iscar, Iscar
Olaizola II/Mendizabal II beat Olazabal/Barriola 22-10

Aspe took a calculated risk in sending young and inexperienced Mikel Olazabal to Iscar in place of the injured Sebastian Gonzalez. Gonzalez and his partner Abel Barriola had a flawless record in the championship up to this weekend and were anxious to keep it that way with the help of the 22 year old substitute. However, standing in his way was the formidable obstacle of last years double txapela winner Aimar Olaizola. The promising Olazabal needed to find a way to better him, or at least contain him, if the Aspe pair were to have any chance but Aimar proved both both imperious and brutal. The forward from Goizueta utterly overwhelmed his rival, barely letting him draw breath in a devastating display of control. Under such unbearable pressure, Olazabal committed error after error while time and again, Olaizola demonstrated his merciless precision in closing out points. Barriola tried his best to compensate for the imbalance in forward play by covering as much of the fronton as he physically could but his play lacked the sparkle necessary to pressure the defending champions and Mendizabal was left to operate precisely as he wished. In truth the result could have been far worse for the Aspe pair given the 19-3 lead which their rivals at one point commanded. Two brief periods of score building saved them from total humilation but the result was never in doubt; Olaizola and Mendizabal march emphatically onward while Barriola prays for the return of Gonzalez.

Aimar Olaizola

Aimar Olaizola

Image from:

Sources: El Correo, Diario Vasco

Jai Alai: Master Jai's new website will open tomorrow

Tomorrow Master Jai Production’s new website will open for the public. The new site can be reached at: where we can already now find some promotion videos made by the Master Jai film team. The site will gradually be filled with news and photos, and from this blog we wish them all the best and hope that it will be a success.

Source: Translated from Blog de Pelota Vasca
Master Jai

Master Jai

Picture from:

Jai Alai: The Usual Suspects – Lopez and Recalde

Last night was the big show – with the best players in the United States facing off at the 20th Annual Citrus tournament, held at the Orlando Fronton, in Florida. Game 14 was the Citrus Championship Doubles Match, played to 10 straight points (as always).

The teams saved their best for last with the play fast and furious. Winning the game for the second straight year was the team of Recalde and Lopez, who were one of three teams representing Miami Jai Alai and had started out the game with seven straight points for a dominating lead. If there was any doubt as to who has the strongest roster, it was put to rest this evening, with all 3 Miami teams finishing one-two-three. World champion powerhouse Goico, teamed with Irastorza, finished second and Arrasate/Erkiaga came in third. Payoffs were, as expected, very low:

Fourteenth (Doubles, 10 pts.)
5 Rekalde-Lopez 6.20 3.20 2.20
7 Goichoetxea-Irastorza 3.80 2.60
2 Arrasate-Erkiaga 2.60
4 Diego-Enbil
Quiniela 5-7 $8.20
Perfecta 5-7 $24.80
Trifecta 5-7-2 $58.00
Superfecta 5-7-2-4 $265.20
.10 Superfecta 5-7-2-4 $13.20

There were many great points during the game, which lasted 33 minutes, bringing the capacity crowd to it’s feet on numerous occasions. One involved the team of Solozabal/Oyarbide and the champions.

Recalde/Lopez were at nine points and at match point, and they played very aggressively, throwing big heat and moving the ball all over the cancha – but there were a series of wild saves (including 2 fall down rebotes by Solozabal) which kept the point alive and was finally won by Solozabal/Oyarbide, with the crowd going wild. Although temporarily seated, Recalde/Lopez came back up again against another Dania team – Diego/Enbil, and finally prevailed to claim the title.

All in all, some of the best cesta punta played on the planet.


Without a doubt, Lopez is a monster. He catches everything, can throw all the shots, covers the court well, communicates and motivates his partner, and finally – throws with a terrible ferocity. I don’t know if there is a better backcourter in the world (with all due respect to Irastorza and Enbil) and maybe, just maybe – he might be the best overall player (sorry Goico)

Goico was shut out of the titles (a rarity for him) with Solozabal and Irastorza taking the singles and Recalde/Lopez dominating the doubles.

A great day to be a fan of jai alai!