Monthly Archives: August 2011

Torneo Aste Nagusia Final: Berasaluze VIII and Begino Take Bilbao Prize


Pablo Berasaluze and Aritz Begino won the inaugural Torneo Aste Nagusia in Bilbao on Saturday, with victory over Titin III and Aitor Zubieta, the latter standing in for David Merino who was suffering with a fever. Bizkaia was full to the rafters, producing a superb atmosphere, and the pelotaris did not disappoint with both pairs playing extremely well. For the majority of the encounter, the pairs were very evenly matched and were level at 6, 8, 9, 10, 13 and 14 but from 14-14 Berasaluze sprang into action, grasping the game with both hands. He was easily the player of the match, and ably supported as he was by Begino, there was little Titin and Zubieta could do to stop progress. He finished with 14 winners to Titin’s 11, in sealing Asegarce’s fifth tournament win of the summer.

Scoring sequence: 0-3/ 1-3/ 2-3/ 2-6/ 6/ 6-8/ 8/ 9/ 10/ 13-10/ 13/ 14-13/ 14/ 14-20/ 17-20/ 17-21/ 17-22

Titin: no service winners, 11 winners, Zubieta: 1 winner, Berasaluze: 2 service winners, 1 service error, 12 winners, Begino: 3 winners

Match time: 59 minutes

Balls hit: 379

Pablo Berasaluze led from the front

Pablo Berasaluze led from the front

Image from Diario de Burgos, source Aspe

Pelota on ETB Sat, 26th-28th August

Friday 26th August, Bilbao

22:05 (CEST) It is unclear what is being shown on ETB Sat tonight. The broadcast will feature the doubles game between:


However, before that there is a pala match, so I do not know whether they will show that and then the above doubles match, or the doubles match first followed by the cuatro y medio game between ARITZ LASA and OLAETXEA. Whatever the truth is, there will be coverage between 22:05 and 00:10. This coverage is not live however, as in reality the matches start at 16:45.

Saturday 27th August, Bilbao

15:50 (CEST) Again, I am not sure what this is. I imagine it will be the Aste Nagusia final between BERASALUZE VIII – BEGINO and TITIN III –MERINO II, but there is no word on the website of either empresa of it being broadcast so I cannot be sure. It appears to be only one match, as coverage ends at 17:00.

Sunday 28th August, Villar de Torre



To watch, go to

Torneo Aste Nagusia Semi Finals

Bilbao’s inaugural summer tournament, the Torneo Aste Nagusia, is taking place this week at Bizkaia. The first semi final was held on Wednesday, and saw a 22-19 victory for TITIN III – MERINO II over OLAIZOLA II – BEROIZ. It was a tough match, lasting well over an hour and involving 810 strikes of the ball, but the closeness of the final scoreline belies the reasonable ease with which the Aspe partnership triumphed. They lost the first point but after that were never headed, despite being held to 4-4 and 9-9. They opened up a gap with the finish line in sight, leading 17-12 and 19-14. Olaizola and Beroiz, still inexperienced as a pairing, pulled themselves back into it at 19-19, but lost the next three points to cede the match. The losers played well in spurts but neither had their best day, while Merino in particular played excellently.

Scoring sequence:  0-1/ 1/ 2/ 3/ 4/ 6-4/ 6-5/ 8-5/ 8-7/ 9-7/ 9/ 10-9/ 11-10/ 11/ 12/ 17-12/ 17-14/ 19-14/ 19/ 22-19

Last night, Titin and Merino II learnt the identity of their final opponents, as BERASALUZE VIII – BEGINO beat MARTINEZ DE IRUJO – LASKURAIN 22-14. The game was intense, but the Asegarce pair won with some confort. They were tracked closely by their opponents in the early part of the match, but from 8-8 onwards Berasaluze opened his shoulders, dominating Irujo on his way to ten winners in the match. Irujo gave him far too many gifts and his adversary had the form to capitalise. The final will be held tomorrow.

Scoring sequence: 3-0/ 3-1/ 4-1/ 4-2/ 5-2/ 5-4/ 7-4/ 7-6/ 8/ 13-8/ 13-11/ 15-11/ 15-12/ 17-12/ 17-13/ 18-14/ 22-14

Pablo Berasaluze, flying high

Pablo Berasaluze, flying high

Source: Aspe, image from reta

San Sebastian Final: Defenders to the Fore in Victory for Irujo and Zubieta

Tuesday 23rd August, San Sebastian


The final of the Torneo Ciudad de San Sebastian was a strange match, exciting not for its quality but for its unpredictability and its closeness. Both forwards hit winners aplenty, many of them stunningly executed, but also made myriad mistakes. There was little to choose between them at the end of the match, and it was the defenders, while less noticeable, who held the key to the fortunes of the opposing sides. Both Irujo and Zubieta began shakily, but Irujo’s recovery came concurrently with the return of Zubieta’s poise. The man from Etxarri-Aranatz, playing without a knee brace for the first time since his operation, hit the heights as the match progressed, producing both the game plan and the execution to push his pair over the finish line. Laskurain, despite being marginally shaded here, was named man of the tournament, confirming the week as one in which the defenders truly shone.

The match started very evenly indeed, with each player showing both good and bad in turn. From 2-2 though, it was Xala and Laskurain who put their feet on the pedal, advancing to 10-5 which some calm, while Irujo increasingly lost the plot. His error on 2-3 resulted in him hurling the ball furiously at the frontis, sending officials ducking, and the mistakes kept coming, a low volley negating some excellent long returns from Zubieta, a failure to return an eminently reachable gantxo, a miscue down the wall and a wild cross court swipe leading to a five-point deficit. Zubieta also contributed to the rot by hitting high twice, and the red pair barely needed to extend themselves to maintain their margin.

However, the ride turned when Laskurain momentarily lost his touch and hit high. Irujo and Zubieta took four points in a row to close to 9-10, aided by two errors from Xala. Xala, clearly annoyed by his lapses, seized the initiative back with a devastating spell of three cross court winners. He then bombed Zubieta, who fell short with a long strike, and the five-point advantage was restored. But again Irujo and Zubieta came back, their latest recovery also kick started by an error from Laskurain. Irujo increasingly brought his trump cards to the table, aided by a partner in Zubieta who was starting to fire on all cylinders. His pressure led directly to errors from both his opponents, and he found ever more depth to force Laskurain onto the back foot. They drew level at 15-15 thanks to one such Laskurain failure, and when a txoko from Irujo put them ahead, Zubieta clapped vigorously, knowing the momentum was with them. Supported wonderfully from the back, Irujo produced a txoko and an inspired skimming dos paredes borne of pure reflex to give them a 15-19 advantage.

The next two points went to Xala and Laskurain, as Irujo proved with two errors that his conversion to form was not complete, the first throwing away a point in which Laskurain had been very much on the run. A service winner from Xala reduced the gap to one point at 19-18, but Zubieta unleashed a wonderful ball over his rival’s head, the icing on the cake of a mad scramble beneath the frontis from all parties. Xala was to have the final say in the match; he gave his pair some hope with a nonchalant cross court winner, on match point, but undid it with a wild and wide ball to give the match to the blues by a three point margin. A game shaped by errors ended most aptly.

Scoring sequence: 2-0, 2-2, 4-2, 4-3, 7-3, 7-4, 9-4, 9-5, 10-5, 10-9, 14-9, 14-11, 15-11, 15-19, 18-19, 18-21, 19-21, 19-22

Winners/errors: Irujo 7/8, Xala 7/6, Zubieta 2/3, Laskurain 0/5

Match time: 64:23

Balls hit: 515


The fully recovered Aitor Zubieta

The fully recovered Aitor Zubieta

Image from: Deia, by David de Haro

San Sebastian Semis: Xala-Laskurain to Play Irujo-Zubieta in Final

Friday 19th August, San Sebastian


The first San Sebastian semi-final ended with a far tighter score line than might have been expected. Xala and Laskurain proceeded to today’s final at the expense of Olaizola II and Begino, but what had looked like an easy win was momentarily put in jeopardy by a comeback which almost gave the reigning Pairs Champions licence to dream. The early part of the game was close, with the pairs tied at 1-1, 2-2, 4-4, 5-5 and 6-6. Both forwards looked as if they were shaping up for an epic duel. Four of Olaizola and Begino’s six points in this spell came from the former’s brutal airez, which he seemed able to sling into open space at will. Xala replied to his virtuosity with some wonderful tactical play, showing himself capable of wrong footing Olaizola, and countered his opponent’s venom with some most improbable defensive efforts. Begino made a brace of errors and Laskurain one, but generally speaking, both defenders seemed the perfect foils for their attacking forwards.

However, Xala and Laskurain broke the deadlock. They edged ahead when Begino was rendered completely baffled by a ball he imagined Aimar would take. Xala’s two txoko winners, separated by a missed attempt at the same shot, gave them a 9-7 lead, and they added eight points without reply, sweeping to 17-7 and the brink of triumph. Xala was the main instigator of this run of points, drawing gasps from the crowd with the pace and precision of many of his winners, whether cross court or into the corner. However, the real difference here arguably lay with the defenders; as Laskurain grew in stature, continuing his scintillating form from Zarautz, Begino looked increasingly lacklustre and gave Aimar, who only committed his first error with the score at 7-16, little room for manoeuvre. With an attack dulled, and Xala seemingly able to retrieve anything, the game looked to be up.

The momentum of the pelota match can change dramatically with the serve, and the blue pair won it back with a cross court winner from Aimar which, for once, left Xala reeling. He took the next two points in addition, hitting to the corner with total command. It seemed as if the sun had finally begun to shine on the trailing pair when Begino finally found some magic and struck the rebote, much to Laskurain’s visible chagrin. 11-17 seemed a little healthier; another few points and the opening was there. However, the advantage was lost once again when Aimar rushed into a txoko and hit it low. His fury with himself was plain to see. Begino let the deficit out further with an inexplicable miscue, but they came back to within five with a deceptively easy swipe into a clear court from Aimar, another rebote from Begino and a rare error from Laskurain. A ball from Xala into Aiimar’s body and a slip from Begino gave the reds match point at 21-14, but still the blues fought, two Aimar winners and two Laskurain errors bringing the score to 21-18. However, the dream comeback was ended with a typically clinical airez from Xala.

Xala and Laskurain were the better pairing for the majority of the match, and made hay while Begino suffered a lengthy lapse. Xala barely put a foot wrong, hitting 12 winners to 2 errors. Aimar managed 10 winners to 2 errors, signalling a solid evening from the multi txapela winner, but one in which he failed to break through Xala’s excellent defences for sufficiently long periods. Laskurain, until the very end, played a solid and astute game, acting as a near perfect foil for Xala’s venom.

Scoring sequence: 0-1, 1-1, 1-2, 2-2, 2-4, 3-4, 5-4, 5-5, 6-5, 6-6, 8-6, 8-7, 17-7, 17-11, 19-11, 19-14, 21-14, 21-18, 22-18.

Winners/errors: Xala 12/2, Olaizola 10/2, Laskurain 3/4, Begino 2/5

Match time: 1:04.16, with 24:04 playing time

Balls hit: 488


The Manomanista Champion, Xala, is in excellent shape

The Manomanista Champion, Xala, is in excellent shape

Saturday 20th August, San Sebastian


Irujo and Zubieta will join Xala and Laskurain in the final tonight, having beaten Bengoetxea and Beroiz by the narrowest possible margin on Saturday. The Asegarce pair was ahead for almost the entire tense encounter, though their lead never grew to more than four points. They were tracked closely by Irujo and Zubieta, who showed their nerve at the death, coming from 18-20 and saving a match point to draw level, before seizing the decider for a 22-21 win after 82 minutes and 609 strikes of the ball. The match was partially overshadowed by the consequences of moisture on the fronton, which made a noticeable difference to the stability and confidence of the players from 18-16 onwards. Atano II has suffered and overcome this problem in the past, and investigations will surely commence. Happily though, all four players emerged unscathed.

Scoring sequence: 2-1/ 5-1/ 5-2/ 5/ 7-5/ 7-6/ 8-6/ 8/ 9/ 10-9/ 13-9/ 13-10/ 14-11/ 15/ 17-15/ 17-16/ 18-16/ 18/ 20-18/ 20/ 20-21/ 21/ 21-22

Winners/errors: Bengoetxea 8/6, Irujo 8/4, Beroiz 0/6, Zubieta 1/5

Irujo will face Xala in the final

Irujo will face Xala in the final

 Images from, Deia

Pelota on ETB Sat, 19th-21st August: Torneo Ciudad de San Sebastian

Tonight the summer festival circus moves on to Atano III for the Torneo Ciudad de San Sebastian. Four pairs are involved, and the winners of each semi final will progress directly to the final, to be held on Tuesday 23rd. Tonight, the Manomanista finalists of last month face off, Xala with Laskurain and Olaizola II with Begino, with whom he won the Pairs Championship. Tomorrow, Bengoetxea VI and Beroiz play Martinez de Irujo and Zubieta.

Friday 19th August, San Sebastian


Followed by XALA – LASKURAIN v OLAIZOLA II – BEGINO San Sebastian Semi Final

Sunday 21st August, San Sebastian



To watch, go to

Zarautz: Irujo and Laskurain the Champions in Error Marred Final

Tuesday 16th August, Zarautz


The Zarautz final was defined more by errors than by winners. Duels between Irujo and Olaizola II are always much anticipated, but this edition of the long running saga ended in disappointment for the 800 pelotazales who packed Aritzbatalde, as 13 of Irujo and Laskurain’s 22 points came from the errors of their opponents. Albisu, so much improved in the semi final after his drubbing in Vitoria-Gasteiz the previous week, was the major culprit, giving away six points, and failing to return three Irujo service winners which looked eminently hittable. Olaizola, too, was strangely out of sorts, although with a slight tweak to his radar things may have been very different, as time and again, potential winners, especially to the wide court, fell just low.

Gallingly for the Asegarce pair, they actually started out rather well, going up 6-3, with Olaizola taking advantage of the solidity of Albisu to strike the ball brutally into space. However, a wide return from the young defender opened the floodgates, and Irujo, defending like a terrier, upped the pace by volleying whenever he could. Laskurain struggled at first to cope with the air that Olaizola produced, but as his opponents faltered, it was enough to play conservatively, waiting for the errors to come. He was awarded the prize for player of the tournament, largely thanks to his splendid performance in the semi finals.

Albisu is only 21, and must not despair; the flashes of immense talent he has shown in his first year as a professional give Asegarce enormous hope for the future, and a credible defending option to set alongside Begino and Beroiz in the years to come. This exposure to the big time, playing alongside one of the all-time greats, will serve him well, despite his nervous unease. Despite many of their points being handed to them on a platter, Irujo and Laskurain greatly deserved this win, playing with sense and accuracy, with an added portion of fire when required.

Scoring sequence: 0-3, 6-3, 6-7, 7-7, 7-12, 8-12, 8-22

Service winners/errors: Olaizola 0/0, Irujo 0/5

Winners/errors: Olaizola 2/7, Albisu 0/6, Irujo 4/3, Laskurain 0/3

Match time: 37:16

Balls hit: 280

Player of the tournament, Aritz Laskurain

Player of the tournament, Aritz Laskurain

Image from El Correo

Zarautz News Round-up, and Final Coverage (Tonight!)

The final of the Torneo Villa de Zarautz takes place tonight at Aritzbatalde. Matches start at 17:00 CEST, but note that ETB Sat coverage is delayed, and will begin at 22:05 CEST.

In the first semi final, on Friday, OLAIZOLA II and ALBISU won a resounding 22-11 victory over GONZALEZ (standing in for Xala), and ZUBIETA. There was not much to choose between the defenders, both of whom did an adequate job. Albisu, much to his and everyone’s relief, was much improved from his debacle with Xala in Vitoria-Gasteiz the previous week. The real discrepancy came in the forwards, where Gonzalez was very lacklustre, and Olaizola was stunning, firing 14 winners to only one error, creating space with ease in which to fire his relentless salvo. He barely broke sweat.

On Saturday, MARTINEZ DE IRUJO and LASKURAIN defeated BENGOETXEA VI and BEGINO, the Virgen Blanca champions, to claim their final spot. Bengoetxea, so scintillating in the summer tournaments thus far, was below his best, gifting Irujo far too much, and not putting him under any telling pressure. Begino was solid, but was outplayed by Laskurain, as the Aspe pair took the tie 22-16. Irujo would dearly love a trophy to salvage his less than brilliant season; in his quest to achieve it, he must overcome arch-rival Aimar and his storming form.

Tuesday 16th August, Zarautz


Followed by OLAIZOLA II – ALBISU v MARTINEZ DE IRUJO  – LASKURAIN Torneo Villa de Zarautz Final

To watch, go to

All eyes are on Zarautz tonight

All eyes are on Zarautz tonight

Image from:

Pelota on ETB Sat, 12th-14th August: Torneo Villa de Zarautz

The Torneo Villa de Zarautz begins tonight, with the first of two semi finals. The winners of each will proceed directly to the final on Tuesday 16th. Xala was to have appeared alongside Zubieta, with whom he won the Pairs Championship in 2010, but he is injured and will be replaced by Gonzalez. Tomorrow’s semi, which will not be streamed online, is between Bengoetxea VI-Begino and Gonzalez-Laskurain.

Friday 12th August, Zarautz


Followed by GONZALEZ – ZUBIETA v OLAIZOLA II – ALBISU Zarautz Semi Final

Sunday 14th August, Zarautz



To watch, go to