Monthly Archives: October 2012

Pelota on ETB, 26th-28th October

Friday 26th October, Hendaia

22:10 on ETB Sat, 22:30 on Deporte en Directo (CEST) IDOATE  – ZABALETA v EZKURDIA – PASCUAL

Followed by XALA v ARRETXE II Cuatro y Medio quarter final league

Sunday 28th October, Eibar


Followed by MARTINEZ DE IRUJO v RETEGI BI Cuatro y Medio quarter final league

To watch, go to http://www.eitb.tv

Promocion Cuatro y Medio success for Gorka, Olazabal, Untoria and Elezkano

The first rotation of quarter final league matches in the Promocion Cuatro y Medio took place this weekend and while two saw easy wins, two were very tight indeed. First in the easy winners category came Gorka Esteban, who thumped Jon Jaunarena 22-9 in Logrono on Sunday. This was another superb performance from the 22 year old Riojan, who had eliminated Ezkurdia in a nail biter to get to this stage, against arguably more fancied opposition. He gets home advantage in his next game on Saturday, when he plays Untoria in his native town of Ezcaray. Equally impressive in victory was Mikel Olazabal who dispatched Jon Apezetxea 22-5 in Tolosa last night. Olazabal was probably the favourite here, but given Apezetxea’s impressive defeat of Zabaleta in the first round the signs were that this would be closer than it was. In the first of two cliff-hangers, Danel Elezkano a professional for less than two months, showed great character in coming from behind to snatch a 22-21 win from Jorge Rico in Balmaseda. Rico looked to have things sown up, but a combination of several errors on his part and the determination of his young opponent put paid to his hopes. Also grabbing a 22-21 win was Alvaro Untoria who beat Stephane Lemuno in Bilbao on Saturday. As with Rico on Friday, Lemuno seemed home and dry, but the Riojan proved why you should never relax until the line has been crossed. The fixtures for the next rotation are as follows:

Friday 26th October, Arrigorriaga: OLAZABAL v ELEZKANO II
Saturday 27th October, Ezcaray: GORKA v UNTORIA
Saturday 27th October, Pamplona: LEMUNO v JAUNARENA
Sunday 28th October, Eibar: APEZETXEA v RICO IV

Wins for Bengoetxea VI, Berasaluze VIII and Retegi Bi in the Cuatro y Medio second round

It was a busy weekend of Cuatro y Medio action. As discussed in my previous post, Arretxe upset Titin to make the last eight and three others also booked their places in the quarter final league.

The first of these was Oinatz Bengoetxea, who beat Mikel Urrutikoetxea 22-7 in Balmaseda on Friday. It was an easy win for the former Manomanista chamopion, who had far too much pace for his less experienced rival. He barely needed to stretch in order to control the fronton and send Urrutikoetxea running in all directions to little avail. Despite the overwhelming superiority of his vanquisher, especially in the volleying department, Urrutikoetxea fought until the very last, showing flashes of the talent which will surely make him a more important player in years to come. The match statistics were as follows:

Bengoetxea: 14 winners, 4 errors
Urrutikoetxea: 3 winners, 5 errors
Strikes of the ball: 243
Match time: 44.56 with 10.00 of actual play

In Bilbao on Saturday, Pablo Berasaluze beat Asier Olaizola 22-11. Olaizola, so impressive in destroying Idoate the previous week, had no match for the bustling pace of Berasaluze. The man from Berriz volleyed with great aplomb and his serve proved lethal, netting him nine points outright. Olaizola played well with his right but in every other way was found wanting as Berasaluze ran out the comfortable winner.

Scoring sequence: 0-2, 3-2, 3-3, 3-8, 6-8, 6-10, 8-13, 9-14, 11-14, 11-22
Berasaluze: 9 service winners, 1 service error
Olaizola: 2 service winners
Strikes of the ball: 153
Match time: 38 minutes

Retegi Bi defeated Ekaitz Saralegi 22-13 on in Tolosa on Monday to become the final recipient of a place in the last eight. Saralegi got off to a flying start and all looked set fair when he led 11-4, a lead established by means of some scintillating cross court play. However, he failed to drive home his advantage as Retegi settled into the match. As he closed to 8-12 and then 12-12, Saralegi looked increasingly fatigued and at a loss as to how to stop the momentum of his opponent. From 13-14, Retegi seized eight points in a row to reach 22 and end the hopes of the man from Amezketa.

Scoring sequence: 1-0, 1-4, 11-4, 12-8, 12-12, 13-14, 13-22
Saralegi: 1 service error
Retegi Bi: 3 service winners
Strikes of the ball: 294
Match time: 56 minutes

The draw for the quarter final league is now complete. Olaizola II (defending champion), Martinez de Irujo, Xala and Barriola qualified as of right and are joined by Arretxe II, Bengoetxea VI, Berasaluze VIII and Retegi Bi. Group one consists of Olaizola, Xala, Bengoetxea and Arretxe, with the others in group two. The first rotation’s fixtures are as follows:

Friday 26th October, Hendaye: XALA v ARRETXE II
Saturday 27th October, Pamplona: OLAIZOLA II v BENGOETXEA VI
Sunday 28th October, Eibar: MARTINEZ DE IRUJO v RETEGI BI
Monday 29th October, Gernika: BARRIOLA v BERASALUZE VIII

Pablo Berasaluze is into the last eight

Pablo Berasaluze is into the last eight

Photo: mine

Upset at Adarraga: Titin succumbs to Arretxe

Sunday 21st October, Logrono


Cuatro y Medio Championship 2nd round

Aspe, cashing in on the popularity of Titin III in Logrono, chose to stage his Cuatro y Medio second round tie in the Riojan capital. However, if the empresa intended this as a coronation, a way to usher their experienced campaigner into the league stage, Iker Arretxe refused to read the script. The first half of the match was incredibly tight, with ties at 4, 5, 7, 8, 10 and 12. Nobody proved able to gain an advantage of more than two points; Titin did this on two occasions, raising hopes that he was beginning to break from the shackles imposed on him by his determined rival, but Arretxe proved tough, playing with speed and verve. The younger man imposed himself for a time thereafter, forging ahead to a 17-12 lead, but to the delight of all at Adarraga, their hero closed to 19-19, punishing Arretxe out wide. A grandstand finish looked in prospect, but Arretxe killed the home party by taking the next three points to reach 22 and break Riojan hearts. After his defeat of the 2007 champion, Arretxe finds himself in uncharted waters. He has never reached this stage of the tournament before but now enters the quarter final league, where he will face Xala on Friday.

Scoring sequence: 1-0/ 2/ 2-4/ 4/ 5/ 7/ 8/ 10-8/ 10/ 12-10/ 12/ 12-17/ 16-17/ 16-19/ 19/ 19-22
Titin: 4 service winners, 1 service error, 1 4 ½ line error, 10 winners
Arretxe: 1 service winner, 16 winners
Strikes of the ball: 263
Match time: 55.41 with 9.43 of actual play

Pelota on ETB, 19th-21st October

Friday 19th October, Balmaseda

20:00 (CEST) RICO IV v ELEZKANO II Promocion Cuatro y Medio quarters

Followed by BENGOETXEA VI v URRUTIKOETXEA Cuatro y Medio Championship round 2

Sunday 21st October, Logrono


Followed by TITIN III v ARRETXE II Cuatro y Medio Championship 2nd round

To watch, go to http://www.eitb.tv

There are two further Cuatro y Medio second round matches this weekend: Olaizola I plays Berasaluze VIII on Saturday in Bilbao, and Saralegi plays Retegi Bi on Monday in Tolosa. In the Promocion Cuatro y Medio, Lemuno plays Untoria (Saturday, Bilbao), Gorka plays Jaunarena (Sunday, Logrono) and Olazabal plays Apezetxea (Monday, Tolosa).

Titin has home advantage on Sunday

Titin has home advantage on Sunday

Photo: mine

A Guide to the Promocion Cuatro y Medio

The Promocion championships are often left by the wayside amidst the chatter which surrounds the top tier competitions, which is a shame. The battle for the second tier txapela involves the potential future Olaizolas and Irujos and is an excellent guide to the credentials of up and coming young players, quite apart from being championship equally as hard fought as its more trumpeted counterpart. This year’s Promocion Cuatro y Medio featured a round of elimination matches to decide the composition of a quarter final league. These games finished on Sunday and produced the following results:

OLAZABAL beat MERINO I 22-10 (Santo Domingo de la Calzada, 5/10/12)
UNTORIA beat IZA 22-13 (Vitoria-Gasteiz, 6/10/12)
JAUNARENA beat ONGAY 22-19 (Eibar, 7/10/12)
APEZETXEA beat ZABALETA 22-13 (Arbizu, 14/10/12)
GORKA beat EZKURDIA 22-20 (Arbizu, 14/10/12)

Gorka Esteban made the quarters after an impressive defeat of Ezkurdia

Gorka Esteban made the quarters after an impressive defeat of Ezkurdia

Thus Olazabal, Untoria, Jaunarena, Apezetxea and Gorka proceed to the league stage. Meeting them there will be Elezkano, Rico IV and Lemuno, who were granted automatic entry. The quarter final league is divided into two groups of four, with Elezkano, Rico IV, Apezetxea and Olazabal in Group A and Untoria, Gorka, Lemuno and Jaunarena in Group B. Each player will play each of the other three in their group, with the top two proceeding to the semi-finals, to be held on 11th November. The final will be on 24th November in Tolosa. The quarter final league matches begin on Friday, and the fixtures for the first rotation are:

Friday 19th October, Balmaseda: ELEZKANO v RICO IV
Saturday 20th October, Bilbao: LEMUNO v UNTORIA
Sunday 21st October, Logrono: JAUNARENA v GORKA
Monday 22nd October, Tolosa; OLAZABAL v APEZETXEA

(Photo: mine)

Cuatro y Medio success for Urrutikoetxea, Saralegi, Apezetxea and Gorka

In addition to the wins for Olaizola I and Arretxe II described in greater detail below, this weekend also saw Urrutikoetxea and Saralegi proceed to the second round of the Cuatro y Medio championships. Urrutikoetxea scored a comfortable win over Gonzalez in Tolosa, subjecting the 2009 winner to a 22-11 defeat. Urrutikoetxea played with great pace and virtuosity, displaying his full repertoire of hook and drops in often spectacular fashion. An increasingly disillusioned Gonzalez had no answers and ended with eleven errors. He now plays Oinatz Benogetxea in Balmaseda on Friday.

Statistics: 0-4 4-8 6-9 9-12 9-18 10-21 11-22, Urrutikoetxea 2 service winners/2 faltas, Gonzalez 0 service winners/0 faltas, 213 balls hit, 46 minutes played

Also in Tolosa, Saralegi got the better of Albisu, winning 22-12 to set up a meeting with Retegi Bi. Albisu is far from a specialist in the short court form of the game but made Saralegi work for every point in a game which was tougher than the scoreline suggested. However, once Saralegi opened up a gap over the younger player, his need for struggle abated.

Statistics: Saralegi 3 service winners/1 falta, Albisu 3 service winners/1 service falta, 195 balls hit, 46 minutes of play

In the Promocion Championship games played in Arbizu today, Apezetxea came from behind to beat Zabaleta 22-13 before Gorka scored a stunning 22-20 triumph over Ezkurdia.

Urrutikoetxea is through to round two in style

Urrutikoetxea is through to round two in style

Photo: mine

Arretxe remains firm as Mendizabal rues chances missed

Sunday 14th October, Eibar


Cuatro y Medio first round

The winner of the Promocion Cuatro y Medio gains automatic entry to the main championship the following year, and so it was that Aitor Mendizabal, so impressive in the second tier competition in 2011, took to the stage today. In his way was Iker Arretxe, a pelotari who blows hot and cold. Arretxe had a nightmare in the first weeks of 2012, repeatedly mauled in the Pairs Championship in the company of Aritz Begino, but here he reminded us of the talent he harbours. He was rarely stunning but for the most part showed impressive control, exploiting the infelicities of a younger player who proved unable to build on positions of strength.

It was Arretxe who eked out the early advantage with three varied winners, but Mendizabal set out to demonstrate the step up in class would not faze him, producing a txoko followed by a cross court winner to tie affairs at 3-3. However, Arretxe worked up little sweat in pulling away to 8-3, and in doing so a pattern was established of Mendizabal failing to capitalise on good positions. On 6-3, for example, he had the wide court at his mercy but rushed over eagerly into his attempted winner and pushed it wide. Again, with the score at 8-5 to Arretxe, Mendizabal blew any chance of coming within two points of the lead by failing to do nearly enough with a txoko and laying himself bare to a dos paredes from Arretxe. A similar pattern continued until the gap became sizeable at 12-6. From this juncture, some semblance of order descended upon Mendizabal and he began to play the shots of which we know him to be capable. He traded blows with Arretxe before embarking upon a run of four consecutive points , including two authoritative service winners, to come right back into the match at 11-14. However, just as the tide threatened to turn, Mendizabal again committed unnecessary sins. He struck a service falta for 11-15 and despite being let off the hook by a miscue from Arretxe committed the same sin again two points later. Arretxe, perhaps sensing the younger player’s despondency at his chances missed, seized the day thereafter, ceding only one more point on his way to a 22-13 win.

This match should have been closer than it was, but there can be no question that Iker Arretxe was the better player. His play was rarely scintillating but when he did open his shoulders the results were often quite excellent. Mendizabal showed flashes of the pace which took him to the second tier crown a year ago, but never settled and allowed too many chances to fall through his fingers. Arretxe now plays Titin, in what will surely be a sterner examination of his mettle.

Scoring sequence: 0-1, 3-1, 3-3, 8-3, 8-5, 9-5, 9-6, 12-6, 12-7, 14-7, 14-11, 15-11, 15-12, 18-12, 18-13, 22-13
Winners/errors: Arretxe 12/7, Mendizabal 6/10
Balls hit: 247
Match time: 44:24 with 10:39 of actual play

Aitor Mendizabal could not continue last years success

Aitor Mendizabal could not continue last year's success

Photo: mine

Asier Olaizola thwarts Idoate with pace and experience

Friday 12th October, Lekunberri


Cuatro y Medio round one

The feature match at Lekunberri on Friday had the potential to be an extremely interesting one, throwing an experienced campaigner into the mix against a young talent trying to cement his place in the top tier. Mikel Idoate, 23, had fought with great aplomb through two qualifying rounds to reach this stage and given Asier Olaizola’s lack of anything resembling stunning recent form, it was tempting to make the young pretender favourite. However, Olaizola, now 37 years old, began with dominance and let his experience show, never allowing Idoate into the game.

Idoate was entirely to blame for the manner in which he ended up on the back foot at the outset, hitting wide twice and then low. Three Olaizola service winners and a winner to the wide court later later and it was 7-0 to the Goizuetan. Idoate’s head fell and the road back seemed extremely long. He was handed his first four points thanks to Olaizola’s first four errors, but failed to capitalise. At 4-10, he was still hanging onto the coat tails of the match but at 4-16 it was, to all intents and purposes, game over. Idoate had shown such fight in coming back against Aritz Lasa the previous Sunday but try as he might, this time nothing worked. Olaizola’s calm point building created pressure enough for him to err on several occasions but many errors were avoidable, such as the sequence from 17-5 to 21-5 in which he killed any hope of a miraculous return by repeatedly failing to strike the ball with any of his usual cleanliness. Idoate showed some form only when it was far too late, producing three winners in a row to close from 5-21 to 8-21, but an authoritative cross court winner provided the final nail in Idoate’s coffin.

This was a consummate performance from Asier Olaizola, the like of which we have not seen in some time. His pace and rhythm were simply too much for Idoate, who looked jaded and out of sorts. Olaizola proceeds to round two, where he has a habit of falling in this championship, to face Pablo Berasaluze. Logically Berasaluze must start the more fancied, his vim and vigour having served him well against formidable opposition in recent weeks, but if Asier can rediscover his form of Friday, an upset is certainly far from impossible.

Scoring sequence: 7-0, 7-1, 8-1, 8-2, 10-2, 10-4, 16-4, 16-5, 21-5, 21-8, 22-8
Winners/errors: Olaizola 12/6, Idoate 2/10
Balls hit: 232
Match time: 35:46

Pelota on ETB, 12th-14th October: Cuatro y Medio first round

After last weekend’s qualifying rounds, the Cuatro y Medio starts for real today. Kicking things off is none other than Mikel Idoate, who won two pre-rounds to get this far. In his way is Asier Olaizola. At least there will be less travel involved for the man from Txantrea this time around; Lekunberri is a mere half an hour away.

Friday 12th October, Lekunberri


Followed by OLAIZOLA I v IDOATE Cuatro y Medio  round 1

Sunday 14th October, Eibar

17:00 (CEST) ARRETXE II v MENDIZABAL III Cuatro y Medio round 1


To watch, go to http://www.eitb.tv

There are two further Cuatro y Medio first round matches this weekend, both of which take place tomorrow in Tolosa. Gonzalez plays Urrutikoetxea, postponed from last week due to the illness of the former. Saralegi plays Albisu in the other encounter.