Daily Archives: 8 January, 2013

First win for Gonzalez-Zubieta as Arretxe-Begino stumble

Monday 7th January, Tolosa

Sebastian Gonzalez and Aitor Zubieta took their first win of the championship last night as Iker Arretxe and Aritz Begino reverted to their 2012 form. The least impressive partnership of last year’s championship had started this one more brightly, having troubled Xala and Barriola before beating Berasaluze and Albisu, but this was a heavy blow. Gonzalez played well, sending winners to all corners, and Zubieta was solid and accurate, but it was the mistakes of Begino which characterised the game. The defender had a jour sans and there was little Arretxe, also off form, could do to dig him out of his self-imposed hole. Gonzalez and Zubieta move up to 5th, while Arretxe and Begino are 7th.

Scoring sequence: 0-1/1/7-1/7-2/15-2/15-3/17-3/17-6/22-6
Winners/errors: Gonzalez 12/4, Arretxe 1/4, Zubieta 0/1, Begino 0/6
Balls hit: 378
Match time: 48 minutes

Aitor Zubieta: solid

Aitor Zubieta: solid

Three weeks into the championship, with all this week’s matches completed, the table looks like this:

Pair Played Won Lost Points for Points against Points diff
1 Bengoetxea VI-Beroiz 3 3 0 66 61 5
2 Martinez de Irujo-Zabaleta 3 2 1 65 52 13
3 Olaizola II-Ibai Zabala 3 2 1 63 51 12
4 Xala-Barriola 3 2 1 64 53 11
5 Gonzalez-Zubieta 3 1 2 59 50 0
6 Titin III-Merino II 3 1 2 55 64 -9
7 Arretxe II-Begino 3 1 2 42 64 -22
8 Berasaluze VIII-Albisu 3 0 3 56 66 -10

Bengoetxea and Beroiz edge thriller at Astelena

Sunday 6th January, Eibar

It would be hard to top Friday’s game in San Sebastian for excitement, but this one may just have managed it. The normally fairly sedate Astelena Sunday evening crowd could not fail to be fired up by affairs this week, as Oinatz Bengoetxea and Mikel Beroiz seized victory from the jaws of defeat to go top of the table. The game was characterised by a fair number of errors all round, but these did not detract from the closeness of almost every rally and from some stunning winners, not only from the forwards but from Zabaleta, who won five points off his own bat. All four players fought to the death in a very tight struggle where almost every point hung on a knife edge. Bengoetxea and Beroiz appeared to have things under some semblance of control, leading 11-4 and 19-15 but both Irujo and Zabaleta lifted their game late on. At 21-19, the Asegarce pair still seemed as if they would edge it, but their opponents fought to 21-21. The final point could have gone either way, as was the case with so many of the game’s rallies. It was won for the red pair by Beroiz, who either by luck or inspired design, hit a winner to the wide court where it fell perfectly just out of reach of both blues. The unbeaten Bengoetxea and Beroiz therefore strengthen their claim to favouritism and head the standings, while Irujo and Zabaleta, with two wins and one loss, are second.

Winners/errors: Bengoetxea 10/3, Irujo 7/5, Beroiz 1/6, Zabaleta 5/6
Balls hit: 639
Match time: 73 minutes with 31 minutes of actual play

Oinatz Bengoetxea had the better of the forward play

Oinatz Bengoetxea had the better of the forward play

Photo: mine

Olaizola II and Ibai Zabala net second win, and Larunbe shows promise

Saturday 5th January, Bilbao

Aimar Olaizola and Ibai Zabala returned to winning ways on Saturday, defeating Pablo Berasaluze and Jon Ander Albisu at Bizkaia. The scoreline makes the victory appear relatively straightforward but this does tell the full story; the eventual winners had to fight from behind and only late in the match imposed themselves. Berasaluze and Albisu forged an early 7-1 lead, desperate for the win which had eluded them thus far in the competition. Albisu was a major player in this early dominance, doing what so many have failed to do and putting pressure on Olaizola. However, the number one found his rhythm and was instrumental in bringing his pair back to 10-10. They went behind again at 10-14 but from then on, Olaizola put Berasaluze to the sword, racking up a total of twelve winners in open play to his opponent’s six. He and Ibai Zabala, who kept pace admirably, took ten points in a row and allowed their opponents only one more before sealing a 22-15 win. They now sit third in the table with two wins and one loss, while their oppoonents languish at the bottom.

Scoring sequence: 1-7 6-7 8-9 10-10 10-14 20-15 22-15

On the same evening, Mikel Larunbe made his professional debut for Asegarce, playing alongside Asier Olaizola against Saralegi and Apraiz. Although the 19 year old and his experienced partner lost the game 21-22, the signs were very promising with the debutant playing an excellent match.

No joy for Pablo Berasaluze thus far in 2013

No joy for Pablo Berasaluze thus far in 2013

Photo: mine

Defending champions off the mark in San Sebastian

Friday 4th January, Donostia-San Sebastian

The defending champions, with David Merino fit again, registered their first win of the 2013 edition on Friday, taking a pulsating match of epic proportions right at the death. This was a titanic struggle, lapped up by a near capacity crowd at Atano III, which stretched over an hour and where almost every point seemed a miniature match in its own right. All four players hit the heights and were extremely evenly matched. The Riojans looked the more secure early on, but once Xala and Barriola settled they began to turn the screw, edging ahead 11-14, 13-16 and 17-19 with Xala forcing Titin to play an ever more physical game and Barriola hitting long with great aplomb. However, the champions battled hard and showed enormous determination to close the gap in the dying rallies of the game. From 17-19 they drew level and moved directly to match point. Xala and Barriola threatened a comeback as they seized another point and with it the serve, but Titin and Merino were not to be denied and brought it home 22-20. This win was not enough to move them out of the bottom half of the table, but will surely have given them the confidence they need to get their defence on the road after a rocky start.

Scoring sequence: 1-0/ 1/ 1-2/ 2/ 2-6/ 3-6/ 6/ 7-6/ 9-6/ 9-7/ 10-7/ 10/ 11-10/ 11/ 11-14/ 12-14/ 12-15/ 13-15/ 13-16/ 14-16/ 14-18/ 17-18/ 17-19/ 19/ 20-19/ 21-19/ 21-20/ 22-20
Winners/errors: Titin 11/2, Xala 12/5, Merino 1/3, Barriola 3/6
Balls hit: 810
Match time: 94 minutes with 39 minutes of actual play

Titin and Merinos defence is back on track

Titin and Merino's defence is back on track

Photo: mine