Monthly Archives: October 2009

4 1/2 quarter finals

It’s quarter final time in the Cuatro y Medio championship and time for the big guns to come out to play. Entering the competition this weekend are defending champion Aimar Olaizola, Manomanista champion Juan Martinez de Irujo and last year’s other semi finalists, Titin III and Pablo Berasaluze. The ties are as follows:

Friday 30th October, Balmaseda: 23:50 (CET) TITIN III v OLAIZOLA I (live on, preceeded by a doubles match at 22:25 (CET) between Urrutikoetxea –  Begino and Arretxe II – Beloki)

Saturday 31st October, Pamplona: c. 19:00 (CET) OLAIZOLA II v RETEGI BI

Sunday 1st November, Eibar: 18:00 (CET) MARTINEZ DE IRUJO v BENGOETXEA VI (Live on, preceeded at 16:50 (CET) by a doubles match between Berasaluze IX – Eulate and Aritz Lasa – Beroiz)

Monday 2nd November, Tolosa: c. 17:30 (CET) BERASALUZE VIII v GONZALEZ

For untelevised matches, go to for live updates

4 1/2: Asier the victor as Saralegi is left to rue missed chances

Sunday 25th October, Astelena, Eibar

Cuatro y Medio Second Round


For Ekaitz Saralegi, Sunday’s match against Asier Olaizola was a case of missed opportunity. Nobody seriously expected the man from Amezketa to be in this position, playing as he did Xala in his first round match, but he defeated the overwhelming favourite in that encounter, and he had his chances here too. In the end, Asier ran out the victor by 22 points to 17 but he was forced to survive a major scare along the way.

Saralegi began the match with promise, producing a serve which Asier could not return, to the delight of his extremely vocal fan club whose chanting became the soundtrack to the night. However, things then all went wrong as Asier took the next six points by virtue of three rather aimless Saralegi errors and three easy and nonchalant winners. Such was Saralegi’s demeanour that it was hard to imagine him winning another point, let alone the match. To his considerable credit, he did recover somewhat after a much needed time out; his botillero Aratz Mendizabal must have produced some wise words. However, he proved himself again and again unable to take any advantage of the chinks in Asier’s armour. Olaizola senior played a far from perfect game but Saralegi could not drive home the knife. The first instance of this came with the score at 6-2. Asier, perhaps resting on his laurels, had hit casually and low in the previous point but Saralegi threw away his foothold into the game with total miscue. Though the gap in points shrank gradually in the early period of the game, a similar important miss for Saralegi took place with the score on 11-7 following a sloppy attempt at a drop shot by Asier; Saralegi could have taken the point with a bit more care, but hit low when under little pressure.  

Despite his underwhelming play in the first half of the match, things swung with a vengeance when Asier failed to dig out a low ball on 17-7; it was the turn of the Goizuetarra to fall apart. Saralegi won nine points in a row in a staggering turn around. He served with brilliance and speed, touching 104kph and hitting his eighth service winner to come within one point of Asier at 17-16. He also forced his opponent into errors in open play and swiped two commanding winners in a whipped dosparedes and a crosscourt airez. Asier looked stunned and turned to the counsel of his younger brother, defending champion Aimar, in the hope of stopping the rot. Saralegi had a massive chance to pull level with Asier at 17-17 which would have represented a huge psychological knock, but he blew it with an ambitious overhead attempt. He knew, from his expression, that he had missed another opportunity, this time a golden one. Again he had a chance at 18-17 but hit just long. His momentum was lost and his spirit dissolved. He failed to win another point in the match as Asier, finally, romped home on the back of two further errors from Saralegi.

So, Asier Olaizola proceeds to the quarter finals, where he will meet the evergreen Titin III on Friday. He will hope for greater consistency there, and a reacquisition of the form he showed in the first round. Saralegi has acquitted himself well in this championship; his contract at Asegarce is up for renewal in February and his performance here will surely stand him in good stead. But for a handful of opportunities missed, he could have gone further.

Scoring sequence: 0-1, 1-1, 6-1, 6-2, 8-2, 8-3, 8-6, 11-6, 11-7, 17-7, 17-16, 18-16, 18-17 and 22-17.

Asier Olaizola: eye on the ball

Asier Olaizola: eye on the ball

Image from: Diario de Navarra

4 1/2: Second round victories for Bengoetxea VI and Retegi Bi

Yesterday, Saturday 24th October, saw two matches in the second round of the Cuatro y Medio Championship, resulting in a victory apiece for the two empresas. In Amorebieta, Julen Retegi got the better of Patxi Ruiz 22-15 in an error strewn encounter. Retegi made five errors but played well, especially in defence, and manipulated Ruiz with ease. Ruiz for his part committed ten errors and as a result was never in the game. This must come as a huge disappointment for the man from Estella, who was clearly delighted to have come through his first round match with no sign of his long standing back injury. Retegi will play defending champion Aimar Olaizola in the quarter finals next weekend.

Meanwhile, things were tight in Pamplona, where Oinatz Bengoetxea defeated Aritz Lasa 22-19. It was an intense, 70 minute encounter which could have gone either way, but the former Manomanista champion, who showed great strength in both attack and defence, held his nerve at the last. Bengoetxea will face Juan Martinez de Irujo next weekend for a place in the semi finals.

Bengoetxea VI is through

Bengoetxea VI is through

Image from: El Correo Digital, Sources: ASPE, Asegarce

4 1/2: Gonzalez shows his extra gear in Zeanuri

Saturday 23rd October, Zeanuri: GONZALEZ beat LEIZA 22-12

It fell to the small Bizkaian town of Zeanuri to host the first second round tie of the Cuatro y Medio championship and an enthusiastic but not overly large audience clearly relished the favour. The players in question were 32 year old Sebastian Gonzalez from ASPE and Asegarce’s 29 year old Inigo Leiza. On paper, Gonzalez was the favourite here but Leiza must have been brimming with confidence after an excellent win over Asier Berasaluze last weekend. Leiza, on body language alone, looked more alert to the task while Gonzalez appeared, as he often does, rather cool and lackadaisical, serving ten pasas in the course of the game. However, it was the latter who displayed the necessary extra gear when the going got tough.

For the first eight points it seemed as if we would witness the close battle for which all had been hoping. Leiza opened proceedings (after the first Gonzalez pasa that is) with a gantxo winner which seemed to signal some intent and the pair traded blows in turn. A fabulous tactical play from Leiza left Gonzalez totally out of position and led to stalemate at 4-4, at which point the same player called a time out which perversely seemed to disrupt his flow, for despite continuing service problems, Gonzalez surged ahead. The man from Lapurdi took the next seven points with such commanding ease that it looked like a light had been turned on somewhere inside him. He hit crosscourt winners in both directions, a txoko winner straight from a masterful second serve, and airez and two dosparedes in a demonstration of his full attacking armoury. Leiza’s second time out, which came at 4-9, was born of a need to avert meltdown. However, the delantero from Lemona somehow managed to haul himself out of the black hole and gradually clawed his way back to touching distance. Leiza, in contrast to his opponent, was in command of his serve and it was this which gave him much of his success. This was especially the case with the txoko winner which took him to 10-13, set up purely by a strong serve which left Gonzalez stranded far too far back. Gonzalez though, sensing the encroaching danger, once again moved up a level and cruised to 18-10, barely breaking a sweat. From this position of strength conceding two further points to Leiza was of no matter. Ironically, after his ten pasas, Gonzalez took the match with a masterful serve to the right which Leiza could not even reach.

This tie did not live up to the high expectations of some but Gonzalez was a clear and worthy victor, outshining Leiza in every aspect of the game bar the serve. He will now face the terrier like Pablo Berasaulze in the quarter finals on November 1, when he can expect a far tougher challenge.

Scoring sequence: 0-1, 1-1, 2-1, 2-2, 3-2, 4-2, 4-3, 4-4, 5-4, 11-4, 11-6, 12-6, 12-7, 13-7, 13-10, 14-10, 18-10, 18-11, 19-11, 19-12 and 22-12.

Sebastian Gonzalez: through to face Pablito

Sebastian Gonzalez: through to face Pablito

Image from

This weekend's pelota on the web

There are two second round Cuatro y Medio matches on etb-sat this weekend. Tonight (Friday), Sebastian Gonzalez of ASPE plays Inigo Leiza of Asegarce in Zeanuri. Leiza is riding the crest of a wave after his easy defeat of the talented Asier Berasaluze in the first round and may cause problems for Gonzalez, who reached this stage after overcoming Diaz. On Sunday, Asier Olaizola plays Ekaitz Saralegi in Eibar. Saralegi pulled off the upset of the first round in his defeat of Xala but Olaizola looked in ominous form against Mikel Olazabal and is the likely favourite. Details are below:

Friday 23rd October, Zeanuri


23:45 (CEST) LEIZA v GONZALEZ Cuatro y Medio 2nd round

Sunday 25th October, Astelena, Eibar


18:00 (CEST) OLAIZOLA I v SARALEGI Cuatro y Medio 2nd round

To watch, go to

Other Cuatro y Medio 2nd round ties are between BENGOETXEA VI and ARITZ LASA (Saturday, Pamplona) and PATXI RUIZ and RETEGI BI (Saturday, Amorebieta). For live updates visit

4 1/2: Patxi Ruiz overcomes fitness doubts in defeat of Ongay

Monday 19th October, Beotibar, Tolosa


Patxi Ruiz became the final pelotari to qualify for the second round of the Cuatro y Medio championship on Monday when he easily defeated Alberto Ongay in Tolosa. The defender from Estella has struggled for many months with a back injury and the doubts over his match fitness linger but if afflicted here he did not show it. He did not play in any of the festival tournaments in the summer and the rest looks to have done him the world of good. Ruiz looked the epitome of comfortable while his opponent seemed besieged with nerves from the outset, his feet rooted to the spot as Ruiz manoeuvered the ball at will. Ongay committed half a dozen errors in the course of the match, balanced by only one winner. His decision making was weak and his service wayward, and his body language told the story of the match. The rampant Ruiz fired eight winners in a victory for experience and nerve, and will now face Retegi Bi in Amorebieta on Saturday for a place in the quarter finals, where Olaizola II will await.

Scoring sequence: 4-0, 4-3, 5-3, 5-5, 16-5, 16-6, 17-6, 17-7 and 22-7

Patxi is back and in good health

Patxi is back and in good health

Source: Diario Vasco

4 1/2: Super Saralegi shocks Xala

Sunday 18th October, Atano III, Donostia-San Sebastian

SARALEGI beat XALA 22-12

When 30 year old Ekaitz Saralegi crossed himself before unleashing his opening serve at Atano III today, it looked like a gesture of hope rather than confidence. Nobody seriously expected the man from Amezketa to trouble the might of Yves Salaberry. Saralegi, who has never won nor even reached the final of a major championship in his eight year career, is the 24th ranked player at Asegarce and lies 40th in the overall ranking. Xala on the other hand is the winner of two pairs championships and a past losing finalist in both the Manomanista and 4 ½ competitions, and is rated 15th by Xala’s form has held steady throughout the summer and little suggested that Saralegi could seriously challenge the skill set of Lekuine’s finest. However, in a match where the baton of dominance passed back and forth in the early stages, it was the underdog who finally seized it for good.

If Saralegi suffered any pre game nerves at all they were soon banished as he took out the first three points with quiet ease, capitalising on Xala’s waywardness. However, Xala banished his demons and pulled his game together to take the score to 5-3 in his favour and it appeared as if the predicted result was on the cards; under pressure from his more fancied opponent, Saralegi hit wide and short, and failed to scoop out two low volleys which he perhaps should have allowed to bounce. But Saralegi once again wrested the initiative with five straight points in which he showed beyond doubt that he was in this encounter for the long haul. He went beyond his earlier mere solidity and pulled off two airez winners of pure brilliance. Though Xala pulled back points in ones and twos, Saralegi never looked under pressure form either his opponent or himself for the remainder of the match. He showed the full gamut of shots, from the gantxo on 6-10 which sent his fans into a frenzy, to the nonchalant txoko which gave him an eight point lead at 8-16. Tactically Xala had few answers; as his confidence and inspiration grew, Saralegi proved adept at manoeuvring his opponent out of position, using his serve with intelligence to send him the wrong way before striking the killer punch. Xala did threaten to regain his rhythm, pulling off four authoritative winners in a row, and in doing so reduced the deficit to four points at 12-16, but he was once again undone by his own lack of direction in the very next point when he struck too low. A time out at 12-19 could not stop the rot for Xala, who committed four errors in a row to bury, once and for all, his chances of reaching the next round.

The small but enthusiastic crowd rose to Saralegi with warmth and enthusiasm and he deserved every plaudit. He outplayed his more fancied opponent in every facet of the game and will surely meet the second round head on and full of confidence. His opponent there will be Asier Olaizola, who was in sizzling form in his first round defeat of Mikel Olazabal last weekend. If Saralegi wishes to triumph there he may need to raise his game another level, but who is to say that he might not silence the doubters once again?

Scoring sequence: 0-1, 0-3, 1-3, 5-3, 5-4, 5-8, 6-8, 6-11, 7-11, 8-11, 8-12, 8-16, 9-16, 12-16 and 12-22

Saralegi: victor

Saralegi: victor

Bengoetxea VI and Retegi Bi win the day

There were two first round matches in the Cuatro y Medio Championship today and both were won in decisive fashion. At Labrit in Pamplona, former Manomanista Champion Oinatz Bengoetxea thrashed current 2nd tier Manomanista king Mikel Beroiz 22-5. A solid Bengoetxea was never troubled by his young opponent who made 9 errors in the course of the encounter. Beroiz is a truly impressive young talent and will have his day, but it is the man from Leiza who proceeds to the second round, where he will meet Aritz Lasa.

Matters were almost as one-sided in Renteria where Julen Retegi beat Mikel Olaetxea 22-8. Retegi will now face the winner of Monday’s game at Beotibar between Patxi Ruiz and Alberto Ongay.

Julen Retegi Retegi Bi

Julen Retegi "Retegi Bi"

Matches this weekend

There are three further first round matches in the 4 1/2 Championship this weekend. Tomorrow, Saturday 17th October, Oinatz Bengoetxea and Mikel Beroiz enter the fray. On paper, this should be Bengoetxea’s to lose. The 25 year old from Leiza was Manomanista Champion in 2008 and is a ferocious fighter close to the frontis. Despite a summer disrupted by a finger injury, he is sure to come out all guns blazing at Labrit. Beroiz however does have a shot at the prize, ever since winning the 2nd tier Manomanista title earlier in the summer, the 20 year old talent has been in excellent form. He is a star in the making and Oinatz will have to be on his guard. Also in the spotlight tomorrow are Mikel Olaetxea and Retegi Bi who play in Renteria.

Sunday 18th October sees the turn of Yves Sallaberry (Xala) and Ekatiz Saralegi, whose match will be live on ETB-Sat. Xala has proven 4 1/2 pedigree having been the runner up in this championship in 2005, and is experiencing a more than solid run of form. he should have the measure of Saralegi here. The 30 year old from Amezketa has little track record in the upper echelons of the 4 1/2 version of the game and there are few indictions of how he will cope. He will however surely be determined to prove his mettle on this exalted stage.

Saturday 17th October, Labrit, Pamlona: c. 19:00 (CEST) BENGOETXEA VI – BEROIZ

Saturday 17th October, Renteria: 17:00 (CEST) RETEGI BI – OLAETXEA

Sunday 18th October, Atano III, San Sebastian: 18:05 (CEST) XALA – SARALEGI Live on, preceeded at 17:00 (CEST) by a doubles game between Titin III – Cecilio and Berasaluze IX – Eulate

Mikel Beroiz

Mikel Beroiz

Cuatro y Medio first round results: the situation so far

I was sadly unable to see any of the matches over the weekend so a brief round up of proceedings will have to suffice…I hope to do better next weekend and bring you some proper reports!

GONZALEZ beat DIAZ 22-19 (Lekunberri, 11th October)

ARITZ LASA beat ARRETXE II 22-20 (Urretxu, 9th October)

OLAIZOLA I beat OLAZABAL 22-12 (Larrainzar, 10th October)

LEIZA beat BERASALUZE IX 22-15 (Gernika, 12th October)

the Gipuzkoan Aritz Lasa is through

the Gipuzkoan Aritz Lasa is through