Friday 29th April, Ascain
IDOATE beat GONZALEZ 22-19
The Manomanista Championship moved to the home town of Sebastien Gonzalez for this second round match, and the local fans expected nothing less than a win for their man, playing under the glowering presence of a gigantic picture of himself. The match was a great spectacle, with strings of marathon rallies, each player aiming to fight the other into the ground. Gonzelez played excellently, but thanks to the skill of the classy and ever improving young Mikel Idoate, the victory eluded him.
The older player, much to the delight of his supporters, started the better of the two. The first point was long and involved, a taste of what was to come, but Gonzalez delivered a statement of intent, seizing it with a brutal gantxo. He proceeded to 3-1 and 4-2 thanks to some solid serving and an error from Idoate, but errors of his own, plus and service winner and a txoko gave his opponent the lead at 4-5. Idoate almost moved two ahead with a near inspired shot into the corner, which he seemed amazed had missed, and perhaps rejoicing in his let off, Gonzalez forged ahead once again, to 9-5. At this point, Gonzalez looked fully in charge. He showed his ability to get past his rival almost any way he pleased, whether to the left, to the right, or over his head.
However, Idoate, sensing the game might be slipping from his grasp, showed his mettle with some stunning play, winning eight points in a row to turn the match on its head. In the point on 9-5, Gonzalez appeared to have him where he wanted him, pinned back and open to the drop. Idoate though, replied with a staggering dos paredes to grab the point for himself. The next point, which he won with an inspired drive to the corner from deep, was no less virtuosic. He proceeded with a service winner and a drop, before running rings round Gonzalez with a txoko followed by a long ball when he was still sprawling by the frontis. When Gonzalez hit low, it was 9-13 and he was visibly demoralised.
Again, however, the momentum swung, as Gonzalez kick started his recovery with an airez, breaking Idoate’s sustained and impressive defence. Thanks in the most part to the strength of his serve and the resulting easy winners, he pegged the scoreboard back to 13-13. The protagonists could not be separated and found themselves tied again at 14 and 15 apiece. Once again, Gonzalez appeared to have broken the resolve of his young opponent, going ahead with a winner from a txoko he barely managed to scrape off the floor. He opened up a three point gap after a long scrap at 18-15, but Idoate would not be bowed. Showing incredible determination and no fear of Gonzalez’s greater experience he stormed back, winning six of the next seven points, and demonstrating the full gamut of winners in the process, to take the tie 22-19. He now plays Asier Olaizola, who is returning from a knee injury, on Saturday, and on this showing, may have the measure of him.
Scoring sequence: 1-0/ 2-1/ 3-1/ 3-2/ 4-2/ 4/ 5/ 6-5/ 7-5/ 8-5/ 9-6/ 9-8/ 9/ 9-10/ 9-11/ 9-12/ 9-13/ 10-13/ 13/ 13-14/ 14/ 15/ 16-15/ 18-15/ 18/ 18-19/ 19/ 19-22
Match time: 55 minutes, with 13 minutes of actual play.
Balls hit: 307
Winners: Idoate 15, Gonzalez 11
Service winners: Idoate 4, Gonzalez 1
Errors: Idoate 3, Gonzalez 7
The other Manomanista second round results, in brief, were as follows:
OLAIZOLA II beat MERINO II 22-5 (Saturday 30th April, Labrit) This was a demolition job by Aimar Olaizola, the rampant pairs champion, and David Merino looked resigned from an early stage. There was nothing Merino could do about the dominance of the Olaizola serve, and when he did manage to enter into a rally, he was more often than not sunk by the best gantxo in the game. Olaizola now plays Irujo, in a match up many would perhaps rather see in the final.
RETEGI BI beat URRUTIKOETXEA 22-15 (Saturday 30th April, Amorebieta) Asegarce’s young charge Urrutikoetxea is known for his fighting qualities, and he took the game to the more fancied Retegi Bi in some well contested rallies. However, the Aspe player showed the greater imagination, and proved the better able to deal with the pressure, moving relatively easily into the quarter finals, where he meets Xala.
BENGOETXEA VI beat ARITZ LASA 22-10 (Sunday 1st May, Eibar)This match was a harder fight than the scoreline might indicate. The first part of the encounter saw Lasa holding on gamely to Bengoetxea’s onslaught, but the latter showed himself to be in a different class thereafter, moving unimpeded from 9-8 to 17-8. There was no way back for the underdog, but he gave his many fans, who had made the trip from his home town of Urretxu, much to cheer about with his refusal to throw in the towel.
The quarter final line up now looks like this: OLAIZOLA I v IDOATE (Saturday 7th May, Pamplona), XALA v RETEGI BI (Sunday 8th May, Eibar), PATXI RUIZ v BENGOETXEA VI (Sunday 15th May, TBC), MARTINEZ DE IRUJO v OLAIZOLA II (Sunday 15th May, TBC).
In the Promocion Championship, JAUNARENA beat LADIS GALARZA 22-18, and OLAETXEA beat LEIZA 22-2. ARGOTE proceeds by default following an injury to OLAZABAL. PENAGARIKANO and RICO IV play today in Legazpi.
Image from Noticias de Navarra