Saturday 8th December, Pamplona
JAUNARENA beat UNTORIA 22-20
Promocion Cuatro y Medio Final
Jon Jaunarena lived up to his billing as the hottest young talent contemporary pelota mano last Saturday, becoming the first player ever to win all three Promocion championship titles in the same year. He adds the Cuatro y Medio crown to the Pairs title he won with Cecilio, and the Manomanista. This tournament has not been plain sailing for Jaunarena; he was forced to fight hard by Ongay in his first round match, coming from behind to win 22-19, and was beaten heavily by Gorka in the first round of group matches. However, Gorka’s dip in form coupled with a brace of excellent wins, one over the eventual runner up who qualified from the same group, saw the favourite through. Debutante Elezkano, who was impressive in reaching the semis, was easy prey and a final therefore awaited against Untoria who had come through a tough encounter with Jorge Rico in the last four. Jaunarena was the clear favourite at Labrit, especially given his 22-15 defeat of Untoria in the group stages, but the pressure was immense. The 20 year old knew that history beckoned and that a win would likely provide a launch pad into the elite echelons of the sport. The final was a tense one, played with great passion in front of a capacity crowd. Jaunarena raced to a 7-0 lead as if to eschew once and for all any notion that the expectation might get to him. However, Untoria proved a tougher adversary than this early discrepancy suggested and came roaring back into contention at 11-11. The rivals could not be split in the ensuing passage of play, finding themselves tied at 12, 13 and 14 before Jaunarena edged ahead again, taking an 18-15 lead. Again his opponent retaliated, coming to within a point at 18-17. In a developing pattern, Jaunarena surged once more, this time to 21-17 and match point. He made his army of supporters sweat however, ceding three straight points to a determined Untoria before finally seizing the championship, and with it the record, 22-20.
With this victory comes adulation but also expectation. Jaunarena is now seventh in the Manista.com rankings, above such established luminaries as Xala, Barriola and Laskurain, and his youth points to a career of greatness. However, Aspe will need to handle him well; his potential is clear but in order to deliver he will need astute management and a solid head. For now though, Leitza’s new champion can enjoy his success and growing celebrity while Oinatz Bengoetxea attempts to give the town its fourth txapela of 2012 against Aimar Olaizola on Sunday.
Scoring sequence: 7-0/ 7-2/ 8-2/ 8-3/ 9-3/ 9-8/ 11-8/ 11/ 12/ 13/ 14/ 17-14/ 17-15/ 18-15/ 18-17/ 21-17/ 21-20/ 22-20
Service winners/errors: Jaunarena 4/1, Untoria 4/0
Winners/errors: Jaunarena 13/7, Untoria 6/4
Match time: 74 minutes
Balls hit: 286
There is a good post match interview with Jaunarena in Noticias de Gipuzkoa, if you understand Spanish or have Google Translate to hand. There are also some pictures on Aspe’s Flickr (I can’t find any pictures of Jaunarena at all which are out of copyright so can’t post any directly!).