Pairs Championship: Aritz Lasa and Zubieta on top as Xala rages

Monday 19th December, Tolosa
Extra interest in this match was added by the polemic which has surrounded Gonzalez’s non-selection in the past few days. Gonzalez yesterday apologised at an extremely earnest press conference for his tirade, in which he questioned the selection of Aritz Lasa and accused his bosses of using non-sporting criteria in a decision which smacked of favouritism. If Gonzalez hoped justification for his rage would come as a result of this match he must have been sorely disappointed, as Lasa had the measure of Xala, the Manomanista Champion and looked every inch at home in the exalted company of the elite pairs competition. The first half of the match was close with the couples tied at 1, 2, 4, 6, 7, 8 and 9, but from 10-11 the supposed underdogs played like anything but. Xala had extreme difficulty in moving the balls chosen by Lasa and Zubieta and grew more and more frustrated at his ability to break free. His fury flowed over at 10-14 when Lasa appeared marginally to block his path. When his protestations to the referee failed he threw his chair three rows back into the crowd in a fit of emotion all the more shocking for coming from a player who is usually so collected. Despite Xala’s meltdown however, the real difference between the pairs came in the back division, where 2010 champion Zubieta was solid as a rock and worked expertly with his partner to put Laskurain under pressure he proved unable to bear. It is early days in the competition, but Lasa and Zubieta have proved in no uncertain terms that they are a force to be reckoned with.
Scoring sequence: 0-1, 1-1, 1-2, 2-2, 4-2, 4-4, 4-6, 6-6, 7-6, 7-7, 8-7, 8-8, 9-8, 9-9, 9-11, 10-11, 10-14, 11-14, 11-20, 12-20, 12-22
Service winners/errors: Xala 2/2, Aritz Lasa 3/0
Winners/errors: Xala 5/2, Laskurain 1/6, Aritz Lasa 7/2, Zubieta 2/2
Match time: 60:10.30
Balls hit: 584


Lasa and Zubieta won at a canter

Lasa and Zubieta won at a canter


Photo: mine



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