The Manomanista Championship took a break this weeked ahead of the quarter finals which start on Saturday. However, the world of pelota mano barely ever stops and there is much to report upon from the past few days, including the second division manomanista, in which we are down to the last eight.
We start with the second tier competition, where things are a little complicated, with intra-emprea heats and quarter finals taking place on the same weekend. This tournament is structured differently to the main Manomanista Championship, with players facing competition from within their own empresas for the right to play in the knockout stages. On Saturday two ASPE pelotaris faced each other; talented 22 year old Mikel Olazabal defeated Xabier Galarza (Galarza VI) 22-11 to seal his place in the quarter finals The result was never in too much doubt, despite Olazabal letting his form slip in the middle portion of the encounter, which opened the door a fraction to Galarza. However, after a time out he regained his head to win at a canter. He will now play 24 year old Gipuzkoan Mikel Olaetxea in the last eight on Friday. Two quarter finals were also played this weekend. In the first, which took place in Pamplona on Saturday, Mikel Beroiz of ASPE beat Iker Arretxe of Asegarce 22-18. Over in Eibar on Sunday, Jokin Argote (Asegarce) defeated Inaki Larralde (ASPE) 22-20. The other quarter final, which will take place at Albelda de Iregua on Friday, pits Pablo Urrizelki (Asegarce) against Asier Arruti (ASPE).
In other news, three of the Manomanista quarter finalists were in action in doubles games, no doubt intended to hone their form. All three fared well. On Friday, Juan Martinez de Irujo teamed up with Xabier Urberuaga to defeat Aritz Lasa and Inigo Pascual 22-13 in Urretxu. On Sunday, Irujo plays Sebastian Gonzalez in San Sebastian for a place in the last four. Urberuaga has to wait until May 10th to play Aimar Olaizola in what is really a third round match owing to the withdrawal of Abel Barriola through injury. Despite this, the winner will progress to the semi finals, and will start next year’s tournament at the same stage as the other semi finalists. On Saturday, it was the turn of Aimar Olaizola himself to get in some match practice. The former double champion and Alexis Apraiz comfortably defeated Juantxo Koka and Aritz Begino 22-13 in Pamplona.
This weekend, the excitement of the Manomanista Championship returns with the following quarter final fixtures, including the start of the title defence of the defending champion Oinatz Bengoetxea:
Saturday 2nd May, Pamplona: Bengoetxea VI v Patxi Ruiz
Sunday 3rd May, San Sebastian: Martinez de Irujo v Gonzalez