Saturday 11th June, Logrono
OLAETXEA beat MERINO I 22-18
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
Sources: Diario Vasco, El Correo Image from: La Rioja