Monthly Archives: May 2012

Jaunarena by a hair’s breadth

Monday 28th May, Tolosa


Promocion Manomanista Semi Final

Jon Jaunarena last night became the first player to qualify for the Promocion Manomanista final, defeating Jose Javier Zabaleta 22-21 in a nail biter at Beotibar. Jaunarena, who has already tasted major success in 2012 in winning the Promocion Pairs with Cecilio, trailed for much of the game, having to come back from 4-11 down. Zabaleta, despite being a defender in the Pairs form of the game, serves with great vigour and often dominated as a result of this but Jaunarena refused to cave. After drawing level at 15-15 he proceeded to 20-15 and looked to have the game in the bag, but Zabaleta came back with great tenacity to 20-20, saving a match point at 21-20 before Jaunarena grabbed a last gasp win. Zabaleta will surely be disappointed to have come so close to his first final, but the young talent from Etxarren can take great heart that his form is coming on a pace after his return from a broken arm. He is a stunning prospect for the future. Jaunarena, only 20 in March, looks like the real deal, another star from the small town of Leitza which has already produced Bengoetxea VI and Barriola. He will play either Ezkurdia or Untoria for his second txapela of the year.

Scoring sequence:  0-1, 3-1, 3-9, 4-9, 4-11, 14-11, 14-13, 15-13, 15-15, 20-15, 20-20, 21-20, 21-21, 22-21.
Winners/errors: Jaunarena 11/6, Zabaleta 5/4
Service winners/errors: Jaunarena 7/2, Zabaleta 8/0
Match time: 64:21
Balls hit: 224
Botilleros: Antonion Jaunarena with his son Jon, and Fermín Escudero with Zabaleta

Tolosas fronton, Beotibar

Tolosa's fronton, Beotibar

Photo: mine

Titin III to stay with Aspe for another year

Aspe have announced the renewal of Augusto Ibanez’s contract for another year. His contract would have been up this year but he will now remain in the ranks of the Eibar promoter until at least 2013. Speaking of his renewal, the new Pairs champion said ‘it is an honour to continue for another year in the elite of pelota with Aspe.’ He stated his aim to remain at the top and give everything in each game for the company.

Manomanista: Aimar overcomes Retegi test to make the last four

Sunday 27th May, Pamplona


Manomanista Quarter Final

These were nervous times for the supporters of the supreme Aimar Olaizola. His mere participation in this game had been in grave doubt earlier in the week owing to an injury to his right arm, the same problem which probably cost him the title in 2003. He was cleared to play following extensive physical tests but worries persisted as to how he would handle a high octane championship encounter. Under normal circumstances he would have been odds on the defeat Retegi Bi but this situation was anything but ordinary. That Aimar came through in the end must be a considerable relief to him and all his connections, for the route to victory was far from comfortable.

Right from the off it was clear that Aimar was not on top of his game. Before he had had any time to settle his worries, Retegi was leading 4-0 with Aimar defending well but lacking the edge to move from rear-guard action into attack mode. He got himself off the mark at 4-1 when he forced Retegi short after an aerial bombardment and it seemed as if he would come back into it. He closed to 4-3 to establish some sort of status quo but then fell behind again, allowing Retegi into an 11-4 lead. Aimar was physically troubled only by his right arm, but he seemed unable even to get the left going, his classic weapon appearing blunted. Retegi knew his rival was on the ropes and played his part to perfection, doing the basics extremely well and putting enough pressure on him until he offended. Twice he hit wide attempting cross court winners and even when he had the serve, produced a falta. All was not right in the Olaizola camp and twice he retreated to the chair in the hope that his brother Asier may have some words of wisdom. A beautiful low skimming dejedaz winner for 6-11 seemed to imply that he had found his touch but in the next play, tactically as well as technically he was all at sea, wasting a chance at an easy winner directly from serve. Retegi began to believe.

However, injured or not, Aimar Olaizola is a great champion and as such never lies down without a fight. Just as the belief that he would come back at Retegi sooner rather than later started to wane, he found some momentum and with it some form. From 7-12 down he advanced to take the lead for the first time at 14-13 and from then on, despite what had gone on before, a sense of inevitability descended upon Labrit. For the first time, he controlled the space of the fronton and it was Retegi who found himself repeatedly pushed back, desperately trying to escape from the salvo of high balls Aimar sent his way. When that tactic failed to finish him off, he produced an array of winners both into the corner and from left to right and now that he was on song, Retegi was blown out of the water. The underdog did manage a further two points thanks to a txoko on 18-13 and a subsequent service winner, but when he hit wide in the next play it was game over. Aimar sealed his semi-final place with an authoritative left armed swipe, showing all concerned that the real Olaizola II was back.

According to statements released today, Aimar is still in discomfort. The worries will not have been entirely banished by his quarter-final display. He does however have two weeks to rest and prepare for his match in the last four which will take place on 10th June. His opponent there will be the 2008 champion Oinatz Bengoetxea, who although not enjoying the best year of his career looked untouchable in his defeat of Aimar’s older brother in his quarter-final. If Aimar is fit he will be the clear favourite, but if not, Oinatz will make sure to exploit every weakness.

Scoring sequence: 0-4, 3-4, 3-7, 4-7, 4-11, 6-11, 6-12, 9-12, 9-13, 18-13, 18-15, 22-15.
Winners/errors: Olaizola 16/7, Retegi 8/6
Match time: 53:53 with 14:12 of actual play
Balls hit: 275

Manomanista: Irujo progresses thanks to Xala injury at the eleventh hour

Xala finds himself eliminated from the Manomanista Championship without so much as hitting a ball in anger. The planned match between he and Juan Martinez de Irujo, scheduled for Saturday at Bizkaia, failed to take place as the defending champion succumbed to acute low back pain on Friday night. The problem became worse during a workout on the fronton on Saturday morning. This misfortune means that Irujo progresses to the semi-finals, where he will meet Mikel Idoate, unimpeded. Xala has not had a good time of late. On the heels of losing the Pairs final came the flu which forced the postponement of this match for the first time. However, this new ailment came too late for any further delay to the match, and Xala’s title defence is over before it started.

Pelota on ETB this weekend

There is no pelota on tonight, unusually for a Friday, but Sunday promises an excellent encounter. Aimar Olaizola has been cleared to play following an injury scare, and while he may not be at his best he will represent an enormous challenge for Retegi Bi. Martinez de Irujo plays Xala, now recovered from flu, tomorrow at Bizkaia but ETB do not have the rights to this. The Promocion semi finals take place next week, with Jaunarena-Zabaleta on Monday in Tolosa and Untoria-Ezkurdia next Sunday.

Sunday 27th May, Pamplona


Followed by OLAIZOLA II – RETEGI BI Manomanista Quarter Final

To watch, go to,

Aimar Olaizola’s Manomanista campaign in severe doubt

Potential bad news both for Asegarce and for the Manomanista Championship as a whole emerged this morning as it was revealed that Aimar Olaizola’s injury problems are of a potentially severe nature. Olaizola, the tournament favourite, is scheduled to enter the competition in Pamplona on Sunday against Retegi Bi but he is now in doubt due to a swelling in his right triceps which has extended to the latissimus dorsi muscle in his back. This is the same injury which afflicted him in the 2003 final, which he lost to Patxi Ruiz and which subsequently saw him out of action for six months. The signs are therefore not promising.

He was supposed to play his quarter final this past weekend but requested a postponement. He underwent a test on the fronton on Friday but he had to stop after only a few minutes. A scan will be performed in Vitoria today and depending on the extent of the injury as revealed by that he may test his shape again tomorrow. The worry is that if he plays at the weekend he may, like in 2003, pay the price with a lengthy period on the sidelines. We can only watch and wait.

Source: El Correo

Aimar: doubtful

Aimar: doubtful

Idoate ends comeback from Asier Olaizola to take semi final berth

Saturday 19th May, Pamplona


Mikel Idoate has made the Manomanista semi finals for the second year running with a tight win over Asier Olaizola at Labrit. The young forward looked to have matters very much under control, having surged to a 14-5 lead, but with the help of six service winners and a powerful right hand, Asier managed to close his deficit to 15-16. However, Idoate had the strength to move forward again, restoring a four point gap at 20-16. Olaizola closed to 18-20 and with the serve his, it appeared as if his experience might yet bring him to the finishing line. However, it was not to be as Idoate closed him out to take his place in the last four, where he will meet either Martinez de Irujo or defending champion Xala.

Scoring sequence: 4-0, 4-9, 5-14, 8-16, 15-16, 16-20, 18-20, 18-22

A cool head saw Idoate through

A cool head saw Idoate through

Image: mine

Bengoetxea annihilates Gonzalez to make the final four

Friday 18th May, Hendaye


To say that Gonzalez had the support of a barrage of fans in his home region of Iparralde would be an overstatement; although the fronton in Hendaye was comfortably inhabited, the atmosphere was rather lacklustre for this Manomanista quarter final. Perhaps if the man from Azkaine had given them anything to shout about they may have obliged, but the evening was all Bengoetxea as Gonzalez fell to a staggering defeat, only escaping complete embarrassment with a flurry of points when it was far too late. His performances in beating Urrutikoetxea and Merino II to get to this stage hinted at a player whose confidence was returning after an indifferent few months, but he proved incapable of holding a candle to Bengoetxea, who granted him no mercy. The Leitzarra will play either Olaizola II or Retegi Bi in the semi finals.

Bengoetxea proved utterly unstoppable from the outset, to the extent that as he sat pretty on 13-0, one wondered whether Gonzalez would manage to score a point at all. Precious few of the points even went to extended rallies, with Benogetxea either winning with his serve or punishing Gonzalez for his inadequate returns within two of three shots. Often Gonzalez had only himself to blame, especially in the point on 0-12, which he should have won but which he threw away with a wide volley. His body language became more and more telling of a player in deep distress. There was a collective sigh of relief from the crowd when Benogetxea made his first error to hand Gonzalez a point but incredibly he threw away any chance at a revival by serving a falta. Bengoetxea picked up where he left off, proceeding to 18-1, the latter two points coming from disastrous attempts by Gonzalez to return his serve. Few would have bet against a scoreline of 22-1 at this point, but to his credit, Gonzalez managed to put together a run of four thanks to two errors from Bengoetxea and two strong serves, but the comeback was short lived as he failed to absorb a salvo of high balls. Bengoetxea moved to 21-5 but was halted again by a rare moment of inspiration from his ailing opponent who pulled two points back when he twice succeeded in getting him onto the back foot. However, the dramatic resurgence was not to be as a txoko sealed a win for Bengoetxea which was staggering in its ease.

Scoring sequence: 0-13, 1-13, 1-18, 5-18, 5-21, 7-21, 7-22.

Winners/errors: Gonzalez 4/10 (2 service winners), Bengoetxea 12/3 (5 service winners)

Match time: 36:19 with 6:37 of actual play

Balls hit: 155

Pelota on ETB, 18th-20th May

Friday 18th May, Hendaia


Followed by GONZALEZ v BENGOETXEA VI Manomanista quarter final

Sunday 2oth May, Eibar



To watch, go to,

Illness and injury force postponements for Xala, Aimar and Ezkurdia

The Manomansia quarter finals between Xala and Irujo (scheduled for Sunday in Bilbao) and between Olaizola II and Retegi Bi (originally Monday in Tolosa) have both been postponed. Xala has flu and has been ruled out by the Aspe medical staff. His match will now take place at Bizkaia on Saturday 26th. Aimar Olaizola cannot play his match owing to an edema in his right arm. He and Julen Retegi will now meet on Sunday 27th in Pamplona.

Mishap has also befallen the Promocion Championship; Joseba Ezkurdia has sprained his ankle and his semi final against Alvaro Untoria will now take place on 3rd June rather that 27th May, at a fronton yet to be determined.