Saturday 3rd December, Tolosa
MENDIZABAL III beat LEMUNO 22-15
Aitor Mendizabal has only been a professional pelotari since 17th July but on Saturday he took the first steps towards realising his staggering potential, beating Stephane Lemouneau to the Promocion Cuatro y Medio crown. The 22 year old from Antzuola played a consistently excellent tournament, beating Zabaleta and Rico IV comfortably on his way to the semi-finals, before comprehensive wins over Ongay and Albisu. His only significant challenge came from his eventual final opponent Lemuno, whom he squeezed past 22-21 in his second semi-final, halting a charging comeback at the very last minute. Given the closeness of their previous encounter, another tight match was expected here, but in the event Mendizabal was easily superior to his more experienced rival and showed little by way of nerves as he strode to victory.
With the exception of the first point, Mendizabal was ahead throughout, extending his advantage as far as 11-4 and 17-7. Lemuno, at whose behest the final was delayed from the previous weekend as a result of his hand injury, looked aimless and lacking in ideas. Many had Lemuno down as their favourite for the title, despite his sketchy performances in qualifying, and he was not without his chances to fulfil his billing. He threatened another comeback against his young opponent in closing to 11-17 and 15-19 but in the end his errors were his own undoing. Two late service fouls were the nails in his coffin and Mendizabal showed no sign of choking, deploying his customary verve and pace to pick up the first txapela of what promises to be a successful career.
Scoring sequence: 1-0, 1-5, 3-5, 3-6, 4-6, 4-11, 7-11, 7-17, 11-17, 11-18, 12-18, 12-19, 15-19, 15-22
Service winners: Lemuno 5, Mendizabal 1
Service errors: Lemuno 2, Mendizabal 0
Winners: Lemuno 7, Mendizabal 11
Errors: Lemuno 5, Mendizabal 3
4 ½ line faults: Lemuno 1, Mendizabal 0
Match time: 53 minutes
Botilleros: Salva Vergara with Lemuno y and José Mari Mendizábal with his son Mendizabal III