Saturday 12th June, Tolosa
ARITZ LASA beat BEROIZ 22-15
Second Tier Manomanista Final
It was no simple matter to pick a winner ahead of Saturday’s final. Mikel Beroiz had the pedigree in the competition, coming into this year’s tournament as defending champion, but Aritz Lasa had had the better championship thus far. The Tolosa faithful turned out with enthusiasm, and the atmosphere at Beotibar was fitting for a final which promised so much. In the ultimate analysis, Aritz Lasa proved the stronger, rendering the younger player powerless to act by means of a rip roaring serve. Lasa’s victory ended a seven year drought in this competition for pelotaris from Gipuzkoa, the last winner from that province being Kepa Penagarikano, in 2003.
The opening spell of the game appeared to signal great things to come for Beroiz, as the defending champion powered to a 4-1 lead, clearly dominant. However, when he allowed his rival into the game by striking too high, taking the score to 4-2, there was a sharp about turn in the colour of the match. Aritz Lasa, perhaps realising his inferiority in the long rally, used his own chosen balls to the maximum of their potential, winning eleven of his twenty two points with service winners. Beroiz resisted manfully, his best spell coming between 4-7 and 8-7, when he defended like a demon, deploying his powerful left arm when possible. He pushed the score on to 10-8, and once again looked to be in a strong position. However, Lasa had much more to give, and in the ensuing whirlwind, turned an 8-10 deficit into a 20-10 lead. The light had been snuffed out for Beroiz, with permanence. In the face of the Lasa serve, Beroiz was never comfortable and was at times utterly swamped. A top defender should have done rather better.
Aritz Lasa’s txapela is the culmination of a superb sustained effort throughout this tournament, for which he had to qualify through a preliminary round. Beroiz, being the 2009 winner, was granted a bye through the early stages but this year failed to live up to his reputation, squeezing through the quarter finals with the help of Retegi Bi’s defection to the main championship, and edging Urrutikoetxea in the semis by the narrowest of margins. He remains, however, a player of the greatest promise for the future, at the age of only 21. But this was Lasa’s day, the biggest sporting triumph of his 26 years, and one that all of Urretxu should savour.
Scoring sequence: 0-1, 4-1, 4-7, 8-7, 8-8, 10-8, 10-20, 13-20, 13-21, 15-21, 15-22.
Duration: 51 minutes
Strikes of the ball: 179
Service winners: Beroiz 3, Aritz Lasa 11
Winners in open play: Beroiz 11 Aritz Lasa 9
Errors: Beroiz 2, Aritz Lasa 1
Image from: Gara, Sources: Diario de Navarra, Diario Vasco