Daily Archives: 12 October, 2011

Cuatro y Medio round up: wins for Saralegi, Berasaluze VIII and Olaetxea, plus the winners and losers in the second tier

Sunday 9th October, Eibar


This was a first round result which surprised many, with Ekaitz Saralegi easily outplaying Mikel Idoate, the 22-year old who is tipped for great things. Idoate won his place in the 2011 main championship by winning last year’s Promocion competition in grand style, trouncing Merino II 22-7 in the final after an unbeaten campaign. Saralegi, not immune to creating upsets in major competitions, went out of last year’s championship in the first round, but has already gone one better in 2011 and will meet Xala in the quarter finals.

The game at Astelena was an uninspiring one. Idoate was never in the game from 2-3 onwards, going behind 2-8, 5-16 and 9-19 before succumbing without much real fight. Saralegi was dominant in all areas, creating space through tactical nouse and hitting winners with aplomb. He notched up fifteen winners in open play with an additional two on service. Idoate won seven of his points with winners, relying on the lapses of his opponent for the remaining four. Sadly for him, Saralegi was not well disposed to the granting of gifts, and it is the Gipuzkoan who marches on.

Scoring sequence: 3-0, 3-2, 8-2, 8-3, 8-4, 9-4, 9-5, 16-5, 16-6, 18-6, 18-8, 18-9, 19-9, 21-11, 22-11.

The other two main Championship matches to be held over the weekend also yielded easy winners. Both took place on Saturday in Pamplona, affording the Labrit fans a potentially intriguing double header which in the end fell rather short of drama. In the first game, PATXI RUIZ was outplayed by OLAETXEA, a pelotari very much in the ascendant, having won both the second tier Pairs and Manomanista so far this year. He won the second tier Cuatro y Medio in 2008, and showed his readiness for the major stage here, beating Ruiz 22-13. The second game of the evening saw BERASALUZE VIII put ARRETXE II to the sword by 22 points to 8. This was plain sailing for Berasaluze but he will face tougher times ahead; his next opponent is four-time Cuatro y Medio champion Aimar Olaizola.

In the second tier Promocion Championship, ARGOTE beat the spirited UNTORIA 22-16, ONGAY compounded CECILIO’s recent lack of form in a 22-8 drubbing, MENDIZABAL III withstood a comeback from ZABALETA to win 22-15, OLAZABAL, a recent returnee from injury, beat MERINO 22-8, TAINTA beat an off-colour IZA 22-9, and GORKA goes through after an injury to JAUNARENA forced the cancellation of their game.

For the full schedule of quarter final matches, see Asegarce.

Delight for Ekaitz Saralegi

Delight for Ekaitz Saralegi

Image from Deia

Cuatro y Medio: Aritz Lasa Powers Past Urrutikoetxea

Friday 7th October, Antzuola


The task of opening the 2011 Cuatro y Medio Championship fell to Aritz Lasa and Mikel Urrutikoetxea, in a match which on paper at least looked evenly matched and very hard to call. A straw poll of observers before the game seemed to come down on the side of Urrutikoetxea, who had pulled off an impressive run in 2010, but in the end it was Aritz Lasa who stormed through. Lasa has blown hot and cold of late, but proved that when he is on song he can be very classy indeed.

The first four points set the tone for the match and Urrutikoetxea never recovered. Lasa signalled his intent with an opening salvo crowned by a searing gantxo winner. This was followed by a service winner, the first of seven, another gantxo and a well worked point in which he tapped the ball gently to the corner before passing Urrutikoetxea powerfully on his right. The younger player inspired confidence of a comeback in his fans with a winner down the wall, but it was not to be as Lasa marched onwards with further force. Urrutikoetxea managed only once to string a pair of points together, at 2-7 and 3-7. His second winner came from a volley close to the frontis and his third from an excellent cross court volley from a diving lunge, but for his remaining points he had to rely on rare moments of carelessness from Lasa. Those aside, Lasa was utterly dominant. 21 of his points came from outright winners, a staggering statistic even in Cuatro y Medio, where winner counts can be on the higher side. Not only were his winners numerous, they were varied, showing off the whole range of the pelotari’s armoury, from volleys, drops and hooks to steepling balls over his opponent’s head.

Urrutikoetxea looked utterly hapless, without a hope tactically and without any potent weapons. This was a surprise given his proven talent and promise, but he has many years ahead to fulfil his potential. Lasa, for his part, proceeds to the quarter finals where he will face Retegi Bi. It remains to be seen whether he can pull off back to back matches of such excellence, but he will have the home advantage; the encounter will take place in his own town of Urretxu.

Scoring sequence: 4-0, 4-1, 7-1, 7-3, 11-3, 11-4, 17-4, 17-5,  22-5.

Lasa barely broke a sweat

Lasa barely broke a sweat

Photo: mine