Monthly Archives: May 2009

Mano results roundup: Ipar Kutxa Final and Cecilio's debut

Ipar Kutxa Final

The Ipar Kutxa Tournament is a doubles competition involving some of the best pelotaris not entered, or no longer involved, in the Manomanista Championship. Each empresa entered two pairs as follows:

For Asegarce: Berasaluze VIII – Begino and Olaizola I – Mendizabal II
For Aspe: Gonzalez – Laskurain and Titin III – Pascual

In the first semi final, which took place in Villamediana de Iregua on 16th May, Asier Olaizola, a losing Manomanista quarter finalist, and Oier Mendizabal defeated Titin III and Pascual 22-15. The second was a tight affair which saw the victors escape the clutches of their opponents only in the dying points of the game. Those victors were Sebastian Gonzalez and Aritz Laskurain, who triumphed over Pablo Berasaluze and Aritz Begino by 22 points to 18 in Bermeo.

The final was held on Saturday 30th May at Beotibar in Tolosa and in a tough encounter, where the scores were tied at 15-15, the plaudits went to Gonzalez and Laskurain, who eventually ran out 22-16 winners over Olaizola I and Mendizabal II. In a match which lasted 73 gruelling minutes, fatigue set in for the losing pair as the skill of Gonzalez proved telling.

Cecilio delivers dream debut

Today (Sunday 31st May) saw the professional debut of the 21 year old Riojan Cecilio Valgañón in his home town of Ezcaray. The defender recently signed a two year contract with ASPE. Hailing from the Titin III Centre for High Performance, Cecilio is the under 22 World Champion and also won the Diario Vasco Tournament in 2008.

In his first match for his new empresa, he was paired with his fellow Riojan Titin III against Capellan and Goni III and he could not have got his career off to a better start. In a 22-7 victory, the debutant and his veteran partner crushed the life out of their considerable opponents. Titin was on sparking form, particularly ruthless in his aggressive hooks and beautifully delicate in his deft touches to the corner. Cecilio too showed impressive skill, especially from the back of the fronton from where he let rip with his powerful right arm. He displayed a young man’s lack of nerves as he entered into the tough new environment of professional mano, and on this showing he should thrive. He and Titin were aided by the errors of their adversaries; while Fernando Goni was for the most part his usual solid self, Capellan was a clear second best to Titin and appeared at sea. As the winning shot was struck, Cecilio’s sizable fan club erupted with a barrage of drumming and shouting, before the young man was hoisted aloft, the hero of the evening.

Cecilio Valgañón González
Date of birth: 28/09/1987
Place of birth: Ezcaray (La Rioja)
Weight: 92 kg
Height: 1.89m
Position: defender
Past results: Campeonato del Mundo, sub-22, 2008; Campeonato de España de Clubes, 2008; Campeonato Diario Vasco 2008; Campeón GRAVN sub-22 parejas, 2007

New pro Cecilio

New pro Cecilio

Image from: ASPE

Mano matches on ETB Sat, today!

Friday 29th May
Festival Huarte


Live on ETB-Sat (use the ‘Live Pelota’ tab in the bar at the top and select ‘Pelota Mano’)

This weekend also sees the final of the Ipar Kutxa pairs tournament at Beotibar, Tolosa, where OLAIZOLA I / MENDIZABAL II play GONZALEZ / LASKURAIN. The game is due to start at around 18:00 CET. While there is no webcast, there will be a live ticker here:

New 2nd Division Manomanista Champion Mikel Beroiz

New 2nd Division Manomanista Champion Mikel Beroiz

Manomanista Championship: injured Beloki forfeits semi final

After a test of his fitness this morning, Ruben Beloki has informed his empresa, Asegarce, that he will not be fit to contest his Manomanista semi final, which would have taken place on 30th May, against Aimar Olaizola. 34 year old, Beloki, the youngest ever Manomanista champion back in 1995, sprained his thumb in his quarter final match against Asier Olaizola on 9th May. Two time champion Aimar Olaizola will now proceed to the final against Juan Martinez de Irujo on 7th June.

Beloki: forced to withdraw

Beloki: forced to withdraw

2nd Division Manomanista Final: classy rookie Beroiz takes the title

Saturday 23rd May
Beotibar, Tolosa
BEROIZ beat ARGOTE 22-13

Mikel Beroiz has been a professional pelotari for all of nine months but yesterday the 19 year old from Navarre defeated Jokin Argote to lift the second division manomanista title in commanding style. Beroiz carried the slightly shorter odds going into the final but to beat a man five years his senior in his first major final, at this stage in his nascent career, is a significant achievement. The enthusiastic crowd at Beotibar was treated to an enthralling match in which both players displayed classic shot making prowess but it was the exciting youngster who brought the greater power to bear.

For the first half of the encounter, the pelotaris were deadlocked, reaching 6-6 and 8-8 after a sprightly start from Argote had netted him an early lead. Beroiz then advanced to 13-8 and had seemingly cut himself free, but once again the scores were levelled at 13-13. However, Beroiz now demonstrated his physical prowess, and after a total of eight service winners in a match lasting 55 minutes and 221 strikes of the ball, the young pretender was crowned. Argote began well and took the game to his opponent in the early stages but it was the strength of Beroiz, his violence in attack and his clever use of the walls which saw him through. Remember the name, for we will hear much more of Mikel Beroiz.

Source: El Correo

Victory for Mikel Beroiz

Victory for Mikel Beroiz

Other news

Earlier in the evening, the fans were treated to a high quality doubles match between Manomanista finalist Juan Martinez de Irujo and Asier Arruti, and Asier Olaizola and Oier Mendizabal. For Irujo this was a chance to maintain his barnstorming form of late as he prepares for his showdown with either Aimar Olaizola or Ruben Beloki on June 7th. However, things did not quite go to plan for him as Olaizola senior and Mendizabal took the win by a solitary point. Losing Manomanista semi finalist and defending champion Oinatz Bengoetxea also went down by one point; at the Mañaria Festival, he and Alexis Apraiz lost to Pablo Berasaluze and Oier Zearra by 22 points to 21. Meanwhile, in the headline match at the Arbizu Festival, Titin III and Zubieta beat Gonzalez and Lasa III 22-15.

Olaizola I took on Irujo and won

Olaizola I took on Irujo and won

This weekend's mano matches, including Friday's live webcast on ETB-Sat

Friday 22nd May
Live at:


Torneo Ipar Kutxa


In other important matches this weeked, Saturday sees the 2nd Division Manomanista Final, between JOKIN ARGOTE and MIKEL BEROIZ in Tolosa. This will take place at approximately 18:15 (CEST) and although there will be no webcast, there will be a live ticker here: Check back for a match report later in the weekend.

The curtain raiser to this match will involve JUAN MARTINEZ DE IRUJO, who will aim to maintain his excellent form ahead of his appearance in the Manomanista Championship Final on June 7th. He will play with ASIER ARRUTI in a doubles match against ASIER OLAIZOLA and OIER MENDIZABAL.

Aritz Laskurain plays in Bermeo

Aritz Laskurain plays in Bermeo

2nd Division Manomanista: Argote and Beroiz to dispute final

The 2nd division Manomanista final, to be played on Saturday May 23rd at Beotibar, Tolosa, will be between 26 year old Jokin Argote of Asegarce and 19 year old Mikel Beroiz of ASPE. Argote reached the final by defeating Asier Arruti 22-11 in Villamediana de Iregua on Friday, while Beroiz qualified 24 hours later, beating the fancied Mikel Olazabal 22-14 in Tolosa. Argote, the older of the pair, has the greater experience and has two 2nd division pairs titles to his name from 2007 and 2008. Beroiz has never before played in a championship final but has looked impressive in reaching this stage, and clearly has a bright future ahead of him. An intriguing final is in prospect.

Young talent Mikel Beroiz

Young talent Mikel Beroiz

Manomanista Championship: Irujo the unstoppable into the final

Sunday 17th May
Atano III, San Sebastian

It is three years since Juan Martinez de Irujo last contested a Manomanista final but at Atano III on Sunday, Ibero’s most cherished son returned to the big time with his defeat of defending champion Oinatz Bengoetxea in a pulsating match. Both are pelotaris who wear their hearts on their sleeves and as promised, served up a contest of breathtaking exuberance and intensity. The desire of each was palpable but there could only be one victor and for all his speed and dynamism, Bengoetxea was unable to match Irujo for sheer skill and devastation.

Irujo began as he meant to go on, opening up a 6-0 lead, hitting the fronton like a whirlwind. 6-0 became 8-1 and 11-2 and many of the extremely vocal fans who had flocked to San Sebastian must have wondered whether they would see a contest. However, Leitza’s faithful lifted Bengoetxea, who is nothing if not a fighter, to parity at 11-11. But parity of scoring does not always tell the whole tale, and Irujo was keen to impress the fact of his superiority. Moving the ball with lethal speed, he wrenched the initiative from the champion, winning the next six points to proceed to 17-11. Bengoextea stemmed the tide with sotomano and hook winners to claw two points back, but none could now doubt the identity of the master. He surged ahead again to 21-15, while all hell broke loose among his supporters, and took the tie at a canter with a stinging forehand winner. In a blitzkrieg of 15 winners, Irujo was in the final again.

This will be Irujo’s third championship final of the year, having previously lost the Cuatro y Medio final in December before winning the Pairs. It was Aimar Olaizola who defeated him in December and that same player could equal Irujo’s feat by reaching the final on Saturday, having been runner up in the pairs. To do that, he will need to beat Ruben Beloki, a multiple winner whose best days are surely past. Beloki retains his guile and Aimar will not expect a walk in the park in his semi final, but the vast majority of the money will be on him. Irujo-Aimar is the dream final for which many will hope, but whoever joins him there will have their work cut out if they are contain his relentless momentum towards the txapela.

Source: El Correo

Can Martinez de Irujo be stopped?

Can Martinez de Irujo be stopped?

Manomanista Semi Final live on ETB-Sat, Sunday: BENGOETXEA VI v MARTINEZ DE IRUJO

Sunday 17th May
Atano III, Donostia-San Sebastian

Live on ETB-Sat:

Sunday sees the first semi final of the 2009 Manomanista Championship and it promises to be a cracker. Oinatz Bengoetxea (24, Leitza) is the defending champion and has reached the last four this time around with consummate ease. His rival is Juan Martinez de Irujo (27, Ibero) who was champion in 2006 and currently leads the Rankings. Both appear to be on white hot form and look set to produce one of the most exciting encounters of the year so far.

The semi final will be preceeded on ETB-Sat by the following doubles match:

Irujo and Bengoetxea, Manomanista rivals

Irujo and Bengoetxea, Manomanista rivals

Manomanista Championship: Aimar thwarts brave Urberuaga

Sunday 10th May
Astelena, Eibar

For many, Xabier Urberuaga has been the surprise package of this championship. Entering the competition in round one, the 27 year old from Aulesti defeated Retegi Bi and Begino to win his chance to compete for a place in the semi finals. Nobody gave him much chance on Sunday where he faced Aimar Olaizola, the formidable champion who has two Manomanista txapelas to his name, as well as a further five from other championships. Urberuaga is no slouch, having won the second tier title in 2007 and the second tier pairs championship this year, but his resume was no match for that of Olaizola, and neither was his reputation. However, the underdog proved once again his fighting spirit, and despite ultimate defeat, Olaizola was made to work for his win.

The match started in predictable fashion with Olaizola dominant. The native of Goizueta showed impressive spark with his right, which augers well given his ongoing problems with his right shoulder which earlier in the year looked to have robbed him of some edge. He also defended well and volleyed excellently with both hands. From 3-4 down, Aimar reached a 13-4 with ease and composure. As his supremacy continued, 13-4 became 17-6 and then 21-7 and Urberuaga, whose numerous supporters in the upper tiers of the fronton could do nothing to lift him, appeared down and out. However, the game changed when Urberuaga won the serve in the next point and, with his choice of ball, applied his own tempo to the match. He succeeded in producing a slower game, which suited his game rather than that of Aimar, and allowed him room and time on both sides. Aimar, unexpectedly rattled, called three time outs in an attempt to regain his composure, and regain it he did; the elusive 22nd point came his way.

Urberuaga’s supporters had sensed a miracle in the air but in reality, Aimar was never threatened to the point of panic. He returns to the Manomanista semi finals after last year’s quarter final defeat to eventual winner Oinatz Bengoetxea and will have his sites firmly set on title number three. His next opponent will be Ruben Beloki, whom he will face on May 23rd at Labrit. Beloki has won this tournament on four occasions but the last of these came eight years ago and by his own admission, he now needs to rely on guile to make up for waning speed and firepower. Olaizola, five years his junior, is by contrast very much a man of the moment and if their semi final goes to the form book, it is hard to envisage him failing to reach what would be his fifth Manomanista final.

Scoring sequence: 0-2, 3-2, 3-4, 13-4, 13-5, 14-5, 14-6, 17-6, 21-7, 21-16 and 22-16.
Playing time: 63 minutes and 54 seconds, with 16.18 minutes of actual play

Aimar Olaizola, a semi finalist again

Aimar Olaizola, a semi finalist again

Manomanista Championship: Beloki scrapes past Asier to set up semi final with Aimar

Friday 8th May
Labrit, Pamplona

Ruben Beloki, who at 20 was the youngest ever winner of the Manomanista title, will return to the semi finals of the tournament for the first time since 2006. He achieved his passage at Labrit on Friday, beating one of last year’s semi finalists, Asier Olaizola by the smallest possible margin. This victory sets up a tie against Asier’s younger and more decorated brother Aimar, to take place on May 23rd, again in Pamplona.

This was a topsy turvy encounter filled with drama. Olaizola, whose participation had been in some doubt owing to a leg injury, started badly, to the extent that one feared he may face humiliation. He seemed unable to counter Beloki’s opening surge which took the man from Burlada to a 4-0 lead. It was however to prove a false alarm as Olaizola turned his game to take the lead 6-4 by means of a solid serve and a right arm more powerful than that of his opponent. There followed a period when the two protagonists seemed evenly matched, each taking advantage of the other’s mistakes to bring the score level at 10-10. Although Olaizola was again to pull ahead to a two point lead, the next passage of play belonged firmly to Beloki who used his serve to excellent effect and passed Olaizola crosscourt with ease. He won eight straight points to wrestle the initiative from the Goizuetan. Olaizola again closed on his opponent but an error on his part allowed Beloki to move to the brink of victory. It was then that a potentially match changing incident occurred in which sprained his right thumb in an attempt to hit a forehand volley. Clearly in pain, he lost the next two points and retired to the dressing room for treatment but his fears of a fracture were unfounded and he was able to continue, albeit somewhat handicapped. Olaizola took advantage of his rival’s plight with ruthlessness to draw the game at 21-21, but Beloki did not waver and when Olaizola failed to retrieve a ball at the front, he leapt to the heavens in pure joy.

Although Beloki should be fit to play his semi final in two weeks, the younger Olaizola will surely pose a greater challenge. Aimar has won two of the last four editions of this championship and will be eager to make up for last year’s surprise quarter final defeat at the hands of Bengoetxea. He was made to work in his 22-16 quarter final victory over Xabier Urberuaga but logic indicates his firepower will be too much for Beloki. However, in sport nothing is certain and if Beloki can show the same fight as he displayed against Olaizola senior, and if Aimar has an average day, who is to say that the final might not beckon?

Scoring sequence: 4-0, 4-6, 5-6, 5-7, 8-7, 8-10, 10-10, 10-12, 18-12, 18-16, 21-16 and 22-21

An injured thumb could not stop Ruben Beloki

An injured thumb could not stop Ruben Beloki