Daily Archives: 14 October, 2012

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