The 2010 Pairs Championship is now in full swing with each partnership having tackled their opening match of the round robin style quarter finals. Below, we look at each encounter.
Wednesday 6th January, Eibar
BERASALUZE VIII – BEGINO beat GONZALEZ – LASKURAIN 22-14
Pablo Berasaluze and Aritz Begino had signalled their excellent form in their defeat of fellow Asegarce pair and 2009 runners up Olaizola II and Mendizabal II last weekend and they showed it again here in their opening match of the tournament. For the Aspe partnership, Gonzalez in particular must surely still be full of the confidence of his Cuatro y Medio victory in December, but he and Aritz Laskurain were outplayed by their opponents who fully deserved the first point of the championship. In the opening exchanges, Berasaluze and Begino did not have things all their own way, falling behind 1-5, 2-6 and 7-9, but from there on there was little stopping their progress. Begino was spectacularly solid at the back of the court, serving Berasaluze winning opportunities on a plate, which the terrier from Berriz took with aplomb. He scored eight winners, twice as many as Gonzalez, his opponent in attack. Their next match will be on the 17th against Irujo and Beroiz, who are sure to test the Asegarce pair’s form to the limit.
Scoring sequence: 1-0, 1-5, 2-5, 2-6, 6-6, 7-9, 17-9, 17-11, 18-11, 19-11, 19-14, 22-14.
Saturday 9th January, Pamplona
MARTINEZ DE IRUJO – BEROIZ beat OLAIZOLA I – PATXI RUIZ 22-13
Defending Champion Juan Martinez de Irujo stepped out at Labrit on Saturday with a new partner in the form of 20 year old Mikel Beroiz. Irujo won last year’s crown with Fernando Goni who does not play this time round and Beroiz has impressive shoes to fill but the young man comes into his first major championship with the pedigree of the 2009 2nd division Manomanista crown and has played well with Irujo in recent weeks. Asier Olaizola and Patxi Ruiz were the whipping boys of last year’s championship and had much to do here if they were not to come off second best. As it turned out, the match went true to form, although Beroiz was forced to overcome a bout of nerves, obvious both in his demeanour and his occasional indecision. Irujo looked imperious as he put fourteen winners, including one on serve, past Asier Olaizola, who did improve somewhat after a rather listless start. Patxi Ruiz had not played a game in a month due to an injured hand and the ring rustiness showed. The only possible outcome was the expected win for Irujo and his young lieutenant.
Scoring sequence: 1-0, 1-2, 11-2, 11-3, 13-3, 13-4, 16-4, 16-9, 18-9, 18-11, 20-11, 20-13, 22-13.
Sunday 10th January, Eibar
TITIN III – PASCUAL beat OLAIZOLA II – MENDIZABAL II 22-14
This was the only game of the opening week which can be described as an upset. Aimar Olaizola and Oier Mendizabal have an excellent recent history in this competition. They were champions in 2008, beating one of today’s opponents, Titin (along with Laskurain) in the final, and last year they lost the title by the narroest possible margin, 22-21, to Irujo and Goni III. Titin III, now almost 41, remains extremely dangerous however and so he proved on Sunday, as the only ray of sunshine in an otherwise dismal and error strewn match. Aimar was well below his accustomed level and was unable to rescue his partner Mendizabal, who made seven errors in the course of the game. In contrast, Titin was in the zone, hitting eight winners with the able backing of Inigo Pascual, who while unconvincing at the start of the match, did improve. Sense dictates that Aimar and Oier will pull their game together in the course of the tournament but they can ill afford too many days like Sunday if they are to emulate their achievements in the past two years.
Scoring sequence: 0-2, 1-2, 1-4, 4-4, 12-4, 12-9, 14-9, 14-10, 15-10, 15-13, 20-13, 20-14, 22-14.
Monday 11th January, Tolosa
BENGOETXEA VI – BELOKI beat XALA – ZUBIETA 22-15
Oinatz Bengoetxea, the 25 year old former Manomanista champion, was the star of the show in Tolosa as he and Ruben Beloki triumphed in a war of attrition. Bengoetxea is one of the most fleet footed of all pelotaris and his determination and drive make him an ideal man to have on your side in a hard fight. So it proved here as he not only defended with brilliance but scored nine winners in open play to Xala’s two. Xala, for his part, made errors early on which gave the initiative away and could not salvage the game in the face of Bengoetxea. Beloki was forced to visit the locker room with the score at 9-13 with a pain in his right side but thankfully for all at Asegarce it proved nothing serious and he was able to return to provide the platform Bengoetxea needed to attack. Their next opponents, Gonzalez and Laskurain, will need to be on top of their game against the handful that is Oinatz Bengoetxea.
Scoring sequence: 2-0, 2-7, 3-7, 3-12, 8-12, 8-13, 11-13, 11-15, 12-15, 12-18, 13-18, 13-19, 15-19, 15-22.
Image from: Gara