Sunday 23rd October, Eibar
MARTINEZ DE IRUJO beat BENGOETXEA VI 22-17
Juan Martinez de Irujo admitted himself that he had no idea how he beat Oinatz Bengoetxea on Sunday. Bengoetxea was up 12-5 and had the defending champion well and truly on the ropes and ‘out of options’. Even having let his opponent back into the game at 12-10, Bengoetxea marched on with ease, playing with pace and verve, to 16-11. Having once again opened a telling gap, it seemed as if Irujo was dead in the water. However, Irujo is the king of the improbable comeback, as he showed in the final last year when Barriola opened up a sizeable gap upon him but went on to lose. Playing with his chosen balls he made his serve count, using it to win six points outright. He moved ahead for the first time in the game at 17-16 and by this time, Bengoetxea was a different opponent, demoralised and unable to break the relentless streak of his rival.
Scoring sequence: 0-3, 6-3, 6-4, 7-4, 7-5, 12-5, 12-10, 13-10, 13-11, 16-11, 16-17, 17-17, 17-22.
Bengoetxea VI: winners (8) errors (7) service winners (2) service errors (0), 4 ½ line faults (0)
Martinez de Irujo: winners (9) errors (5) service winners (6) service errors (1), 4 ½ line faults (1)
Match time: 42:56, with 9:46 of actual play
Botilleros: Asier García with Bengoetxea VI and Patxi Eugi with Irujo
Sunday 23rd October, Longroño
XALA beat TITIN III 22-17
Titin had home advantage for this quarter final tie and the Riojan fans did everything they could to lift their hero. Well aware of the fact that this may be his last chance for Cuatro y Medio glory, his retirement possibly encroaching, the home favourite went at Xala hammer and tongs and put him seriously on the back foot. Falling to a 0-6 deficit, Xala appeared nervous and the crowds sensed blood. The Manomanista champion picked up points in ones and twos, moving from 1-7 to 5-7 and 6-10, but from 7-11 he found his feet in style, picking up seven points in a row to lead 14-11 and undo all of Titin’s early supremacy. Titin scrapped to stay in touch, but in reality no longer looked like a winner, his demeanour radically altered. Xala moved serenely towards the last four, wasting little time in closing the deal after establishing a five point lead at 20-15.
With Xala’s victory, the semi-final line up is complete and is in the eyes of most the dream quartet. Martinez de Irujo and Olaizola II kick off proceedings in Bilbao on Saturday, before Xala and Barriola meet on Sunday in Eibar in an effort to deal the opening blows of the elite round-robin stage.
Scoring sequence: 0-6, 1-6, 1-7, 5-7, 5-9, 6-10, 7-11, 14-11, 14-13, 16-13, 16-15, 20-15, 20-16, 21-16, 21-17, 22-17.
Xala: winners (9) errors (8) service winners (1) service errors (0) 4 ½ line faults (0)
Titin III: winners (8) errors (10) service winners (2) service errors (0) 4 ½ line faults (1)
Match time: 75:00
Balls hit: 391
Botilleros: Aitor Zubieta with Xala and Joaquín Plaza with Titín
The semi-final line up is also now complete in the Promocion Championship. On Friday in Beasain Mendizabal III thrashed Rico IV 22-6, In Pamplona on Saturday Ongay beat Tainta 22-16, in Logroño on Sunday Albisu triumphed 22-15 over Apezetxea while Lemuno beat Olazabal 22-12 in Eibar. The first semi-final is on Saturday in Balmaseda where Lemuno takes on Albisu. On Tuesday, Mendizabal III plays Ongay in Eibar.