Daily Archives: 13 June, 2011

Second Tier Manomanista Final: Olaextea comeback breaks Miguel Merino

Saturday 11th June, Logrono


Mikel Olaetxea Balerdi is the second tier Manomanista champion. The 26 year old defeated Miguel Merino 22-18, after a dramatic comeback at Adarraga, recovering from a 9-18 defecit. With the prize at his fingertips, the older Merino brother fell apart. He had swept all before him up until this point, basing his dominance in open play upon the base of a powerful serve, but a short sotomano, ceding the serve at 10-18 proved his undoing. Olaextea never looked back. He attacked fearlessly with both hands, especially his stronger left, and avoided being drawn into lengthy rallies, which he feared may be his undoing. Playing with speed and not a little risk, he reduced Merino to a shadow of his former self, hiding in disbelief behind his towel. The counselling he received from his botillero worked not at all, as the pre match favourite swept all before him.

Olaetxea took the title in 51 minutes and 187 balls, scoring 12 winners to the 8 of his rival. He has now won each of the second tier prizes, having added the Pairs and Manomanista to the Cuatro y Medio he collected in 2008. The top flight awaits.

Scoring sequence: 0-6, 2-6, 2-8, 5-8, 5-12, 8-12, 8-15, 9-15, 9-18, 22-18

Winners/Errors: Olaetxea 12/6, Merino 8/4

Service winners/service errors: Olaetxea 5/0, Merino 4/1

Mikel Olaetxea triumphant

Mikel Olaetxea triumphant

Sources: Diario Vasco, El Correo Image from: La Rioja

Bengoetxea replaces Xala in Manomanista Final, as Anger and Emotion Abound

On Wednesday, following Xala’s surgery for appendicitis, the League of Empresas took the controversial decision to remove the ailing forward from the Manomanista final, and give his place instead to Oinatz Bengoetxea, one of the losing semi finalists. They cited the danger of Xala returning to training and competition too soon after the procedure, risking further injury as well as making the final worthless and one sided. Many people judge the final to be worthless now anyway however; it is clearly not a satisfactory situation for Aimar Olaizola, there through merit, to have to play the same Bengoetxea whom he defeated in the semis, in the final. It seems, however, that the decision is set in stone, given the backing of Xala’s empresa, Aspe, who ratified the LEP.M’s decision.

Xala and his supporters have not given up hope, despite their bleak predicament. The man himself today gave a press conference, accompanied by his lawyers and medical staff, asserting his right to play in the final which he had reached through toil, sweat and brilliance. As Carlos Zuluaga’s video at manista.com shows, Xala is not afraid to bear his emotions on the issue, and support from the press in the room seemed overwhelming. Fans have jumped to his defence, chanting his name at matches, and setting up Facebook groups in his support. Today, in addition, came the news that a petition has been signed by a whole raft of top pelotaris, demanding that the final be decided on sporting merit, respecting both the professionals involved and everyone who loves the sport. Those who have signed so far include:

Jon Apezetxea,Asier Arruti,Abel Barriola,Cecilio,Miguel Capellan,Aitor ElKoro,Patxi Eugi,Sebastian Gonzalez,Fernando Goñi, Gorka, Mikel Idoate,Aritz Lasa, Oskar Lasa,Aritz Laskurain, Larrinaga,David Merino,Miguel Merino,Peio Mtez. de Eulate, Juan Mtez. de Irujo, Aratz Mendizabal,Alberto Ongay ,Julen Retegi,Julian Retegi,Mikel Olazabal, Jose Javier Zabaleta,Aitor Zubieta and Augusto Ibañez “Titin III.

This story will rumble on, but it seems there is little hope for Xala. Barring a protest to rock the heart of the sport, the final will be contested on Sunday between Aimar Olaizola, the best player of the year, and Oinatz Bengoetxea, a losing semi finalist.

Xala: still determined to play

Xala: still determined to play

Image from Noticias de Navarra, by Oskar Martinez