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.
Image from: Noticias de Navarra, by Inaki Porto