Sunday 7th August, Vitoria-Gasteiz
BENGOETXEA VI – BEGINO beat XALA – ALBISU 22-5
This was an unmitigated sporting disaster for Xala and Albisu. They were perhaps an unlikely pair, coming from different empresas, and never having played together, but formed an intriguing mix of proven championship class and future potential. Bengoetxea and Begino played excellently, but in a sense did not have to, for the vast majority of points came from the errors of their opponents, especially Albisu, who started badly and if anything, got worse. Even Xala was unable to impose himself on the game, though he did have the excuse of a cut on his hand, procured while adjusting his protections, which required treatment. The result, with its staggeringly one sided score line, puts Bengoetxea and Begino, winners of two matches in a row with consummate ease, into the final against Olaizola II and Beroiz.
The first seven points were a microcosm of the match as a whole. Bengoetxea began with a winning drive to the corner, and hit two service winners, showing himself as the class of the match. In addition, there were three errors from Albisu, and one from Xala. After conceding a point Bengoetxea marched on, always supported with metronomic ease by Begino from the back, whipping out a dos paredes, and a ruthless cross court shot from a position almost on top of the frontis. But the errors kept coming from both reds. The most disastrous period was that between 2-11 and 2-16, where Albisu lost his direction completely. He hit unnecessarily wide three times in a row, becoming more frustrated with each infelicity. There was little he could do about a strong Bengoetxea serve in the next play, but he then hit wide yet again, to the disbelief of the crowd.
To his credit, Albisu did then play an excellent point, getting the ball over Begino after a more even forward tussle, and a rare error from Begino gave his pair two points in a row. Xala showed signs of finding some form, setting up the next play beautifully, but then miscued what would have been an overarm winner. The reds’ one further point was handed to them by Begino’s second lapse, but from there on, things got worse again, with Albisu, clearly and understandably rattled, hitting high three times in a row, before Bengoetxea finished things off with two winners of brutal efficiency. The job was done, much more easily than he can possibly have anticipated.
Scoring sequence: 0-7, 1-7, 1-11, 2-11, 2-16, 4-16, 4-17, 5-17, 5-22
Service winners/faults: Bengoetxea 3/0, Xala 0/0
Winners/errors: Bengoetxea 4/1, Begino 2/3, Xala 0/3, Albisu 1/10
Match time: 43:36, with 16:18 of actual play
Balls hit: 305
Image from: Noticias de Alava