Monthly Archives: May 2010

Pelota on the Web, 28th-29th May

There is a break in the Manomanista Championship this weekend before the blue riband tournament resumes with the semi finals next week. The focus therefore turns to the 2nd Tier Manomanista, a chance for young talent to show itself off. Tonight, Inigo Leiza plays Aritz Lasa for a place in the final, while tomorrow, defending champion Mikel Beroiz takes on young 2nd Tier 4 1/2 Champion Mikel Urrutikoetxea, one of Asegarce’s brightest hopes for the future.

Meanwhile, Juan Martinez de Irujo aims to keep himself ticking over ahead of next weekend’s Manomanista semi final against Patxi Ruiz, with a doubles game in Beasain tonight. He will line up against Pairs Champion Aitor Zubieta, just returned from knee surgery.

Friday 28th May, Beasain


Followed by LEIZA v ARITZ LASA 2nd Tier Manomanista Semi Final

Saturday 29th May, Zalla


Followed by BEROIZ v URRUTIKOETXEA 2nd Tier Manomanista Semi Final

All these matches can be viewed online at

21 year old Urrutikoetxea

21 year old Urrutikoetxea

Image from Deia

Manomanista Group B: the Final Reckoning

Apologies for the lack of full reports this week; I was unable to watch either of the matches and have since then been run off my feet!

This past weekend saw the conclusion of the Manomanista group stages. Group A reached its conclusion the week before, with Martinez de Irujo and Olaizola I taking the semi final slots, and this week it was the turn of Group B. Xala had already booked his place in the last four, but the second berth rode on Saturday’s game at Labrit between Patxi Ruiz and Retegi Bi. The winner would progress while the loser would kiss the competition goodbye. Patxi Ruiz it was who qualified, beating Retegi Bi 22-14. Retegi had the best of the early exchanges, taking a 4-9 lead against an opponent who looked wracked with nerves. However, Ruiz changed his approach, abandoning the volleying game he had previously adopted. His newfound speed wore the younger pelotari down, as he was forced to chase back repeatedly. Ruiz will now face Martinez de Irujo in the semi finals, where he will have to up his game to a major degree.

The other match, in Bergara on Sunday, saw the in-form Xala beat Iker Arretxe 22-16, in a game he did not have to win. The match was hard fought, and Arretxe did himself credit in the fight he took to Xala. The Asegarce player found himself in the competition only as a substitute for the injured Olaizola II, and while he lost both games he played (the other against Retegi Bi), he showed much promise as well as great character. Xala’s performance was not as dominant as might have been expected, but the Aspe forward is the player of the year so far, and looks like the most serious rival to Martinez de Irujo for the overall prize. He will first have to overcome Asier Olaizola in the semi finals.

The dates and venues for the semi final matches were announced today and are as follows:

XALA v OLAIZOLA I, 17:00, Saturday 5th June at Labrit, Pamplona

MARTINEZ DE IRUJO v PATXI RUIZ, 17:00, Sunday 6th June at Astelena, Eibar

 Source: Asegarce, here and here

The first semi final will be held at Labrit

The first semi final will be held at Labrit

Image from: Diario de Navarra, by Jose Carlos Cordevilla

Pelota on the Web, 21st-23rd May: Manomanista Group B

It is the final weekend of competition in Group B of the Manomanista. Sunday’s game between Xala and Arretxe II is a dead rubber; Xala is already through at the head of the group and Arretxe is out. The other semi final place will be decided on Saturday, with Patxi Ruiz and Retegi Bi going head to head for the prize.

Friday 21st May, Miranda de Ebro



Saturday 22nd May, Pamplona


Followed by PATXI RUIZ v RETEGI BI Manomanista Group B

Sunday 23rd May, Bergara


Followed by XALA v ARRETXE II Manomanista Group B

All these matches can be viewed at

Retegi Bi competes for a place in the last four

Retegi Bi competes for a place in the last four

Image from Deia

Aimar Olaizola begins the long road to recovery after successful surgery

Olaizola underwent surgery on his ruptured anterior cruciate ligament at a clinic in Vitoria-Gasteiz on Tuesday. He expected to be out until at least the end of the year.

The procedure, which was carried out by Dr Mikel Sanchez, took an hour and passed without any complications or setbacks. He was discharged today and returned to Goizueta. Although everything went as planned, the recovery process will be long and painstaking. Rehabilitation can begin 72 hours after surgery, and this first phase will last for around six months. Asegarce report that on Monday he will begin five hour rehabilitation sessions which will take place on three days each week. The process will consist of electro-stimulation, massage, and work in the swimming pool and gym. After three or four weeks, the brace can be removed, allowing a return to some every day activities. After this period, Olaizola can train on the fronton for a two month spell of physical strengthening, before returning to competition when total confidence has been regained. Asegarce are hopeful of his return in time for the 2011 Pairs Championship, but there can be no hard and fast deadline for his reappearance. We wish Aimar all the best.

Source: Diario de Navarra, Asegarce

Manomanista: Ruthless Irujo makes short work of Oinatz

Sunday 16th May, San Sebastian


Manomanista Group A

On Sunday, Manomanista favourite Juan Martinez de Irujo made short work of Oinatz Bengoetxea to make absolutely sure of his place in the last four. Bengoetxea, the 2008 champion needed a big victory to progress, but he came up against an Irujo in a typically aggressive mood, and never came close. The result also means that Asier Olaizola is assured of his semi final slot. He will probably play Xala, while Irujo will face either Patxi Ruiz or Retegi Bi.

As if to state his intent to finish his opponent off as quickly as possible, Irujo raced to a 5-0 lead. Bengoetxea rallied to 5-4 but that was as close as he got to the tournament favourite, who surged to 13-5 and 20-6. He relaxed a little as he reached the finishing line, but he had plenty breathing space, and though he moved on to 10, Benogetxea was in an inferior league to Irujo here. The former champion committed ten errors, and the lack of competition between the two was reflected in the short duration of many of the rallies. Irujo simply had too much power and played with too much speed, and only 117 balls were required to seal the win.

This is the third consecutive visit to the Manomanista semi finals, and he has arrived at this point with three wins from three in the contest. He must now be the favourite, although Asier Olaizola uncovered weaknesses in his armoury. Xala may have something to say about the supposed top status of the man from Ibero, and as the form pelotari of the year as a whole, may prove his most formidable rival. A final between the two would be a match to savour.

Scoring sequence: 5-0, 5-4, 13-4, 13-5, 13-6, 20-6, 20-7, 21-8, 21-10, 22-10

Oinatz is out

Oinatz is out

Image from Noticias de Alava, by Javi Colmenero

Manomanista: Olaizola I keeps Barriola at bay

Saturday 15th May, Pamplona


Manomanista Group A

In a game of high intensity and great excitement at the cathedral of Labrit, Asier Olaizola overcame the staunch challenge of Abel Barriola to all but claim a place in the semi finals of the 2010 Manomanista. Had he lost here, he would have been forced to wait for the result of the match on Sunday between Martinez de Irujo and Bengoetxea VI, where a win for Bengoetxea would mean elimination for the Goizuetarra. As it was, this sterling victory meant qualification, unless Bengoetxea could beat Irujo by more than eight points.

The game was one of sporadic quality. Both pelotaris displayed stunning skill at times but both also lapsed. However, the real quality of the evening came in the form of its scintillating atmosphere, stirred up by the knowledge of all concerned that this encounter truly mattered. The large crowd roared and rippled like the sea. At first, Olaizola rode the crest of the wave, moving to a 4-1 lead with some authority. It was not to last though, as a lapse in his early intensity opened the door for Barriola, who at 9-4 to the good found himself in a position of some strength. He was able to control points, pushing Olaizola back relentlessly, and it appeared that his pre-injury verve had returned, albeit too late for him to qualify. However, Olaizola took his chance to regain the serve with both hands, and astonished all concerned with a run of fifteen straight points. He served excellently, and displayed the killer punch that Barriola increasingly lacked, on his way to registering a total of thirteen clean winners in the match. It is to be expected that after nearly a year off with a serious knee injury, Barriola will take time to return to the boil, but he looked slow here and lacked spark. Sharp movement is obviously not yet easy. However, having arrived a mere three points short of the prize, Olaizola stuttered, and his errors allowed Barriola back into the game. In his last match, against Irujo, Olaizola had allowed a massive lead to slip; surely it would not happen again? Thankfully for him, he regained his composure, not without some necessary risk taking, and moved with relief from 20-18 to 22-18.

The relief was palpable on the face of the older Olaizola; he had done all he could, and could return home to await his fate in the knowledge that he had left everything on the fronton. Barriola was below his very high par, as he has been all tournament, and one can only hope that the real pelotari will step forward very soon. The loser was, as ever, gracious in defeat, and congratulated Olaizola with warmth. As he retired to leave his brother in the limelight, botillero Aimar granted Asier a firm pat on the back; job well done.

Scoring sequence: 2-0, 2-1, 4-1, 4-9, 19-9, 19-13, 20-13, 20-18, 22-18

Pelota on the Web, 14th-16th May: Manomanista Group A

It is crunch time in Group A of the Manomanista Championship. Martinez de Irujo is all but guaranteed a place in the semi finals, and barring a miracle, Barriola is out. Bengoetxea VI and Olaizola I will fight it out for the final berth, and each will observe the match of the other with intense interest. The situation can be summarised as follows, but points difference may come into play:

  • If Bengoetxea loses, he can only go through if Olaizola I loses to Barriola.
  • Olaizola I must beat Barriola to have a chance, and hope that Bengoetxea loses.

    Friday 14th May, Deba



    Saturday 15th May, Pamplona


    Followed by OLAIZOLA I v BARRIOLA Manomanista Group A

    Sunday 16th May, San Sebastian

    18:45 (CEST) MARTINEZ DE IRUJO v BENGOETXEA VI Manomanista Group A

    All these matches can be seen at


    Manomanista: Sublime Xala Books His Place in the Final Four

    Sunday 9th May, Eibar

    XALA beat PATXI RUIZ 22-6

    Manomanista Group B

    Patxi Ruiz arrived at Astelena full of confidence on Sunday. He had defeated Aritz Begino to take his place in the championship on merit and looked strong in his match against Aimar Olaizola until the latter’s injury caused proceedings to be abandoned. He talked a good game and believed he could back it up. However, 36 minutes and 7 seconds later and Ruiz was a shadow of the pelotari he wished to be as Yves Salaberry completed a performance of such brutal class that all future opponents must be quaking in their boots. With his 22-6 annihilation of Patxi Ruiz, ‘Xala’ became the first player to book a certain place in the last four. The second berth available to players from Group B will be taken either by Ruiz or by Retegi Bi, who play each other on May 22nd at Labrit.

    The hapless Ruiz, although he made only three errors, was never afforded a look in by Xala, who struck fourteen winners to only one error. Before Ruiz could gather himself for an assault on the scoreboard, the dominant forward had scored ten points without reply. Xala directed the majority of his serves to the left wall, and gave them air, so that before Ruiz could counter, he had time to tap winners into the front court. He was unflappable, immovable, unstoppable, and appeared in a different league. Ruiz mustered three points before Xala surged again, moving from 10-3 to 14-3, and then to 21-4. Ruiz, who never gave up trying, saved two match points but the victory was only a matter of time for his opponent, who seized his place in the semi finals with the 163rd ball of the match.

    The Eibar fans rose to Xala with sincere warmth and respect, for Patxi Ruiz was hit by a tidal wave of power and grace the like of which is seen rarely. Ruiz can still qualify for the last four however, and must find a way to restore his positive outlook over the next two weeks. This will be no easy task. The victor, on the other hand, appears on an express train bound for the final. Will this be the year of Xala?

    Scoring sequence: 0-10, 3-10, 3-14, 4-14, 4-21, 6-21, 6-22.

    Source: Diario Vasco

    It was a bad day at the office for Patxi Ruiz

    It was a bad day at the office for Patxi Ruiz

    Image from Noticias de Navarra, by Ainara Garcia

    Manomanista: Retegi Bi Pips Arretxe II to Keep Hopes Alive

    Saturday 8th May, Pamplona

    RETEGI BI beat ARRETXE II 22-21

    Manomanista Group B

    On Saturday it was the turn of the two young substitutes in Group B to show their colours on the biggest stage. Julen Retegi and Iker Arretxe were granted their chances in the Manomanista thanks to the injuries to Gonzalez and Olaizola II respectively, and if this match was anything to go by, both were out to prove their right to be there. The stakes were high; the winner would retain a chance of qualification for the semi finals while for the loser, the competition would be over almost before it had started. The result went right down to the wire, in front of a good Labrit crowd which warmed to the spectacle.

    As was expected, the encounter was tough and very hard fought, full of bold play and forceful hitting. Retegi took the first point, indicative of his subsequent domination of the early exchanges. Arretxe played rather too hurriedly while his opponent showed more composure under pressure, resulting in a 1-5 deficit. Gradually however, Arretxe clawed his way back, closing to 4-5 and levelling the game at 7-7, making good use of his own balls on serve. The match remained tight in this middle period, but it seemed like the upper hand was Arretxe’s, as he went ahead 11-8. However, Retegi sprang into action and took eight points in a row to change the colour of the match in quick time. Arretxe fought doggedly, and clung to Retegi’s coat tails in closing to 13-16, 15-17 and 18-19 before giving the neutrals exactly what they wanted, a tie at 21 apiece. With a potential semi final place hanging on one ball, the two young players prepared for a final showdown. Arretxe’s serve was solid but Retegi managed to return with interest to keep himself in the point. Arretxe appeared to have the beating of his rival as the rally proceeded but it was the Aspe player who broke the deadlock, sending him rushing headlong to the back of the fronton to keep his hopes alive. It was not to be, and it is Retegi who can still dream of Manomanista glory.

    Although he ended up on the wrong side of the scoreboard, Arretxe cannot reproach himself for his beating. He was handed the unenviable task of filling the shoes of Aimar Olaizola and acquitted himself well. However, despite the narrowness of his defeat, the gloom continues for Asegarce who must now look to Patxi Ruiz for salvation in Group B. The eyes of Aspe and Retegi Bi will also be on Ruiz, for it is likely that his future performances will dictate their fate.

    Scoring sequence: 0-1, 1-1, 1-5, 4-5, 4-7, 7-7, 7-8, 11-8, 11-16, 13-16, 13-17, 15-17, 15-18, 16-18, 16-19, 18-19, 18-21, 21-21, 21-22.

    Source: Deia

    Retegi Bi takes the advice of his great father

    Retegi Bi takes the advice of his great father

    Image from: Noticias de Navarra, by Inaki Porto

    Pelota on the Web, 7th-9th May: Manomanista Group B

    This weekend it is the turn of Group B in the Manomanista Championship to take centre stage. This is of course a group which has been much changed by injury, and Saturday’s match is between the two substitute players, Arretxe II and Retegi Bi. Both, through no fault of their own, arrive at this point with one loss in bag from the first rotation. On Sunday, the two victors from the first round of matches face each other, with Xala the hot favourite. The man from Iparralde annihilated Gonzalez in his first game, while Patxi Ruiz advanced when Aimar Olaizola fell injured. Ruiz was however playing well up until that point, and will surely take the fight to Xala. In addition, there are two matches from the 2nd Tier Manomanista quarter finals.

    Friday 7th May, Orduna


    23:35 (CET) LEIZA – BEROIZ 2nd Tier Pairs Championship

    Saturday 8th May, Pamplona


    Followed by ARRETXE II v RETEGI BI Manomanista Group B

    Sunday 9th May, Eibar

    17:00 (CET) MENDIZABAL II v MERINO 2nd Tier Manomanista Championship

    18:10 (CET) PATXI RUIZ v XALA Manomanista Group B

    All these matches can be viewed at