Tuesday 24th August, Donostia-San Sebastian
XALA – APRAIZ beat BERASALUZE VIII – BEGINO 22-16
Torneo Ciudad de San Sebastian Semi Final
The final of the San Sebastian tournament will be between two pairs whose players are drawn from opposing empresas. Yves Salaberry and Alexis Apraiz booked their place on Tuesday, beating the established pairing of Pablo Berasaluze and Aritz Begino, to take their place in Friday’s showdown with the men from Leitza, Bengoetxea VI and Barriola. The game was won in the forward battle, where Xala stood head and shoulders above Pablo, who had a night to forget. Xala signalled his intent from the word go with two crosscourt winners which verged on the nonchalant, and he never looked back, committing one solitary error in nearly twenty minutes of playing time. In the final at Zarautz, Xala was very far from his usual self, but here we saw the play from him to which we have become accustomed this year. Never ruffled, he played with icy calm, hitting ten winners, and exuding utter control. He finished the match as he started it, with an easy winner, to further confirm his status as man of the match. In contrast, Berasaluze leaked errors, committing eight in total. He was potent at times, scoring eight winners too, but these were essentially wiped out by his inconsistency. He fought hard, as ever, but Xala was an obstacle too far for a man in less than his greatest form.
The backs were more evenly matched, both making four errors. Apraiz, for his part, grew in confidence as the match progressed, finding a nice rhythm and a cool head. The majority of his mistakes came early on in the game, and he offered high level support to his attacking game-winner. Begino was perhaps the more inventive of the two, managing three outright winners, and was strong from the rear of the court, but the crucial battle occurred in front of him and Begino; no amount of stoic support could have saved Pablo. On the evidence of their semi final, Bengoetxea and Barriola will be hard to beat on Friday. Bengoetxea has been in fine fettle of late, and looked totally at ease with his new partner. Apraiz will have to play out of his skin to upset Barriola, who is currently playing like a Rolls Royce, and Xala will need another game like Tuesday’s if he and Apraiz are to lift the silverware.
Scoring sequence: 0-3, 2-3, 2-4, 4-4, 4-6, 6-6, 7-6, 7-7, 7-13, 8-13, 8-14, 11-14, 11-15, 12-15, 12-18, 14-18, 14-20, 16-20, 16-22.
Winners/Errors: Xala 10/1, Berasaluze VIII 8/8, Apraiz 0/4, Begino 3/4
Balls played: 393
Match time: 51.56
Playing time: 19.20
Image from Diario Vasco by Michelena