Category Archives: Master Jai

This weekend’s pelota, and a round-up

Once again, sorry for the silence over the past two weeks. In my absence, the Pairs Championship finalists have been decided: the final will be held on Sunday 28th April in Bilbao and will be between Martinez de Irujo  – Zabaleta and Berasaluze II – Albisu. The former pairing’s presence in the last two represents no surprise whatsoever, but Berasaluze and Albisu’s late charge for the prize has been unexpected. They lost their first semi final match to Beongoetxea and Beroiz but thereafter beat Olaizola II and Ibai Zabala 22-14. Then they defeated their opponents in the final by the same margin to seal their place. This result must fill them with confidence, but will lightning strike twice for the outsiders? Irujo and Zabaleta won their other two semis, beating Olaizola and Zabala 22-8 and Bengoetxea and Beroiz 22-13. In the dead rubber last weekend, Olaizola and Zabala signed off with a win, beating Bengoetxea and Beroiz 22-15. All the results from the competition up until this point are here and the semi final table is here.

In the Promocion championship, Rico IV and Untoria have sealed their place in the final despite a narrow loss to Tainta and Ladis Galarza last week. Gorka-Cecilio and Apezetxea-Larrinaga will play off for the other place in a sudden death encounter in Pamplona on Saturday. All the results are here with the current table here.

The first of two Aspe previews for the Manomanista Championship took place last week. Ezkurdia came through to beat Aritz Lasa 22-20, thereby sealing his place in the draw proper. In the the second preview which takes place tonight in Vitoria-Gasteiz, Zubieta takes on Merino II. Asegarce will hold a preview tomorrow between Arretxe II and Olaetxea, as well as a game between Elezkano II and Larunbe for entry into the Promocion manomanista.

Matches on ETB this weekend are:

Friday 19th April, Vitoria-Gasteiz


Followed by ZUBIETA v MERINO II Manomanista Preview

Sunday 21st April, Eibar



To watch, go to http://www.eitb.tv

Pelota on ETB this weekend

There is no pelota on this Friday evening, but Sunday should in part make up for this as the two top pairs in the championship play each other at Bizkaia. Whoever wins this will have one foot in the final.

Sunday 7th April, Bilbao



To watch, go to http://www.eitb.tv

The other Pairs Semi in this rotation is on Saturday at Labrit, where Olaizola II-Ibai Zabala play Berasaluze II-Albisu in what is a crunch match for both. In the Promocion tournament, Apezetxea-Larrinaga face Rico IV-Untoria in Beasain on Friday while Gorka-Cecilio play Tainta-Ladis Galarza on Sunday after the main championship semi at Bizkaia.

Win for Bengoetxea-Beroiz as Berasaluze cannot save Albisu’s blushes

Monday 1st April, Eibar


Pairs Championship Semi Final

Easter Monday saw a good crowd at Astelena for the second of the holiday weekend’s semi-finals. Here, Bengoetxea and Beroiz were the clear favourites and the form book was in no way upset, despite the never-say-die fight of Berasaluze. The favourites won the match essentially because of their balance as a pair. Bengoetxea and Beroiz, from the start of the tournament, have worked as an equal partnership, Beroiz hitting long and powerfully to set up a solid attacking platform for a partner who has seldom failed to use it. In contrast, at least here, their opponents were a one man show. Berasaluze played like a man possessed on Monday, which is more than can be said for Albisu, who leaked error after error, mishit after mishit. Eleven of the seventeen points the losing pair achieved were thanks to winners from Berasaluze but there is a limit to what anyone can do to bail out a partner with this lack of form.

The game started with nervous errors from both pairs, but it was Bengoetxea and Beroiz who settled first and eked out a gradual lead, moving from 2-6 to 4-8 and 5-9. Their opponents closed the gap to 8-9 but all hopes of a close game seemed dashed thereafter when seven straight points took the lead to 8-16. However, to the credit of Berasaluze, he was not prepared to give the cause up so easily and dragged himself and Albisu back to 14-16 and then 17-18. However, Albisu’s woes continued. He hit short all too often, looking at his hands with disgust as if hoping to find some answer in them. Many of the balls which landed inside the frontis were barely inside. Bengoetxea and Beroiz exploited the weakness he showed and were merciless in targeting him as Berasaluze stood resigned. They closed the game out with four straight points, the final one of which came due to an error from Albisu, just as if to make the point even starker.

With the first two semi-finals out of the way, it would be hard to bet against Irujo-Zabaleta and Bengoetxea-Beroiz facing each other in the final. Both did an excellent job this weekend, looked solid and unruffled and crucially, both worked wonderfully as a team. Both of the losing pairs are unbalanced, with the forwards propping up an often ailing defender. However, there are two weeks left before we know the line-up for the finale; one upset and things could yet be very different.

Scoring sequence: 1-0, 1-3, 2-3, 2-6, 3-6, 3-7, 4-7, 4-8, 5-8, 5-9, 8-9, 8-16, 14-16, 14-17, 15-17, 15-18, 17-18 , 17-22
Service winners/errors: Berasaluze 0/0, Bengoetxea 2/1
Winners/errors: Berasaluze 11/3, Albisu 1/11, Bengoetxea 5/3, Beroiz 1/1
Match time: 68:13 with 25:33 of actual play
Balls hit: 501

In the Promocion Championship semi-finals, Gorka and Cecilio suffered the agony of a 21-22 defeat in their home town of Ezkaray by Rico IV and Untoria. Meanwhile, Apezetxea and Larrinaga won 22-7 over Tainta and Ladis Galarza at Ogueta.

Irujo-Zabaleta underline their favouritism in first semi romp

Saturday 31st March, Vitoria-Gasteiz


Pairs Championship Semi Final

Favourites Juan Martinez de Irujo and Jose Javier Zabaleta took first blood in the semi-finals with a resounding win over Aimar Olaizola and Ibai Zabala at Ogueta on Saturday. The Asegarce pair went ahead, briefly, but got no further than 4-2. Irujo and Zabaleta pulled level at 4-4 and from here on in it was for the most part one way traffic. The eventual victors knew that to ensure success they had to nullify the threat of Olaizola, and they did this with great skill. Most of the other pairs in the championship have failed in this task, allowing the sport’s current number one far too much space to dictate, but Irujo and Zabaleta sent the ball sailing over Olazioa’s head as often as they were able, placing mounting pressure on Ibai Zabala. Zabala is relatively new to the game at this level and has surprised many in the standard of his play thus far, but he found the favourites too hot to handle and crumbled under their pressure, committing a catalogue of errors. He repeatedly hit short of the ideal as Zabaleta pushed him back, mercilessly. This gave Irujo plenteous room to swing. The trailing pair shadowed their opponents reasonably closely for a time, holding them at 6-8 and 7-9, but from this point on there was no comeback as the blues shot to 7-17. It was a great shame for the public of Vitoria-Gasteiz that the hoped for Irujo-Olaizola duel failed to materialise, but the aficionados must surely have appreciated a tactical master display by probably the strongest pair in the competition. Such an easy win puts them in an excellent position as far as qualification for the final is concerned, while Olaizola and Zabala will have to both win and address their gaping points deficit.

Scoring sequence: 1-0, 2-0, 2-1, 3-1, 3-2, 4-2, 4-3, 4-4, 4-5, 4-6, 4-7, 5-7, 5 – 8, 6-8, 6-9, 7-9, 7-10, 7-11, 7-12, 7-13, 7-14, 7-15, 7-16, 7-17, 8-17, 8-18, 8-19, 8-20, 8-21, 8-22.
Service winners/errors: Irujo 7/0, Olaizola 0/0
Winners/errors: Irujo 13/1, Olaizola 4/2, Zabaleta 2/2, Zabala 1/5
Match time: 55:10
Balls hit: 388

Irujo: unstoppable

Irujo: unstoppable

Photo: mine

Jai Alai: Foronda and Arriaga Wins First Semifinal

img_2312Duration: 79 minutes
Scoring sequence: 2-0, 2-2, 3-3, 4-4, 5-5, 6-6, 7-7, 8-8, 9-9, 10-10, 11-11, 12-12, 12-18, 13-18, 13-21, 16-21, 16-22, 18-22, 18-23, 19-23, 19-27, 20-27, 20-28, 21-28, 21-29, 22-29, 22-30, 23-30, 23-31, 24-31, 24-32, 26-32, 26-33, 27-33 y 27-35

Master Jai’s pair Olha and Elizegi could not match the hard working Jon Arriaga, who together with Foronda won the first semifinal with 27-35.


The game was surrounded by a nice atmosphere, and was very even through the first dozen of points. Christophe Olha seemed very focused, threw his shots with great spead and was very well directed from the backcourt by Adolfo Elizegi. Both Iker and Jon in the blue team played well, but did not seem to be able to finish the points of in the same effective manner. After 12-12 the game changed a bit, and the Jai Alive teams more consistant play payed off with six straight points making the scores 12-18. Master Jai’s players made an effort to even up the scores but only reached to 18-22 before it started to be quite clear who would walk off the court as winners. Arriaga played very well and Forondo managed to close a couple of points in a spectacular way. The last points were more even but with a small advantage for the Jai Alive team, who could then close the game with a seven points lead.

Worth mentioning is that Christophe lost three points on his own serve.

The results in the other two games were:



Source: Translated from Master Jai

Jai Alai: Master Jai and Jai Alive back on the same court again


The two basque empresas Master Jai and Jai Alive will take part in competitions together for the first time in over one and a half year. The players in this tournament, the first Master Interempresas, will be two pairs from each empresa. They will play two semifinals, followed by a big final. The first game will be played in Durango between Olha/ Elizegi and Foronda/ Arriaga. The other semifinal will take place in Markina, and the players will be Alberdi II/ Felix from Master Jai, against Egiguren II/ Hernandez from Jai Alive. The winners will play the big final in Hondarribia, where the basque television will be present to broadcast the game. (which should mean it will be possible to watch it voer the internet).

The game schedule looks like follows:


DURANGO 19/3, 17:00 CET

MARKINA 20/3, 17:00 CET

Winners Semifinal I – Winners Semifinal II



Jai Alai: Master Jai's results from Gernika


Duration: 78 minutes
Points on serve: 2 for Alberdi II and 2 points and one 1 fault for Treku

Scoring sequence: 2-0, 2-1, 3-1, 3-3, 5-3, 5-7, 6-7, 6-11, 7-11, 7-12, 8-12, 8-13, 11-13, 11-14, 13-14, 13-15, 15-15, 16-16, 17-17, 18-18, 18-20, 20-20, 21-21, 24-21, 24-23, 25-23, 25-24, 26-24, 26-25, 27-25, 27-27, 28-28, 30-28, 30-30, 32-30, 32-31, 33-31, 33-32 and 35-32

Exactly like in the previous tournaments where Alberdi II and Mugartegi have played together, they played brilliant today. They got the victory through hard work against todays opponents Treku and Felix, who last week won against Baronio and Mugartegi.

The blue team started out very well, and quickly worked their way to a 6-11 and later a 8 – 13 lead. After that followed a period of equal scoring, 15-15, 16-16,17-17, 18-18 and 20-20. At that point David Treku still played well and Felix guarded the court well, but the last fifteen points went better for the red team, which seemed to be a bit more inspired this last part of the game.

Luis Mari Alberdi played very well the whole evening, and threw some very spectacular rebotes. Aitor Mugartegi played at a good level, and tonight it simply was not enough that Felix worked hard throughout the game, and even threw a couple of dos paredes.

The results in the other two games were:



Source: Translated from Master Jai

Jai Alai: Interview with Miguel Angel Amoros


Miguel Ángel Amorós went to the United States when he was still almost just a almost just a kid, and now lives in New Port with his wife and children. He admits that he still misses his home town in the basque country, and that he still goes there at least once a year to visit his basque family. During his career as a professional cesta punta player he has experienced a lot of things, some of which he will share with us in this interview.

What do you remember from the first times you held a cesta in your hands?
I started playing late. I went to a private school, and didn’t start to play seriously before I had finished there. When I was younger I used to play pelota mano, but later I came to choose cesta punta.

When did you make your debut?
I went to Reno (USA) in 1978, but one year earlier I had played some games in Soria and Logroño. The games were part of a championship which lasted a couple of days, and we were about six or seven players from Markina who participated.

How did you get the opportunity to go to Reno?
I got the oportunity through Izagirre from Berriatua. I signed up for two years, but the owner of West Palm Beach went to watch us play, and I managed to get a contract from him as well. I was in Reno for nine months, and then I competed in West Palm Beach during the winters and in New Port during the summers. I went on like that until 1986, when I went to West Palm Beach to play all year round, but then came the strike.

During that time it was necessary to get a normal job.
During the strike I worked with construction, and then after nine months I went to New Port with my wife. The Frontons belonged to the same company, so the strike went on there too. I starten working for Benchmark, and still today I worke there.

But then you went back to playing again.
The strike was over in 1991, and we from West Palm Beach had contracts for three years. So I left my job and went back to playing until November 1993. I could have kept on for four more months in Ft Pierce or Hartford, but I chose to go back to the north and they accepted me at my old job again.

What does your work consist of now?
I’m in charge of the generators, elevator and other aspects like security and maintainance of a couple of buildings. The compalny also has some buses and other vehicles that need to be maintained and kept in shape. In total we has 43 different buildings and 5000 employees throughout Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachussets, New Hampshire and Vermont.

What went through your head when they told you you were going to America?
I couldn’t believe it. My first contracts, the ones in Reno and West Palm Beach, I signed in Markina. I had already earlier told my parents that my dream was to go to America, and that it was money spent in the wrong way to pay for studies. So I started to work instead.

What was your first impressoin of the United States?
The first thing we saw when we arrived in New York was a limousine with four doors. We started counting our steps to see how long it was.

Was it hard to travel that far to live in another place?
No, because the fronton was owned by Metro Goldwin Mayer, and they had more than 400 apartments in the same block. All the players and the other staff lived there, and it was like a small community and we spent a lot of time together.

Did you meet your wife in America?
She worked in the fronton in New Port, and we got to know each other in 1983. It was during the period that Felix payed there. I spent a lot of time together with hin and Goitia as well.

Which is your favourite city in the USA?
Reno, but the most beautiful place is Lake Tahoe, which is the deepest lake in the country and is situated on the boarder between Nevada and California. It was where they shot the serie Bonanza, and everything is constructed with great respect for the nature there. Apart from that I off course like New Port very much. It’s a beautiful city. Nicholas Cage has a house there, and the Kennedys used to spend the summers there.

Would you say your kids are americans?
Yes. The oldest one was born in West Palm Beach and the second and the third in New Port. They have been eight or nine times in the basque country, and they love it there. With the smallest one I use to play cesta punta against a wall, and when we got to Markina, the first thing he wanted to do was to play cesta there.

Have they inherited you passion for Athletic Bilbao?
My oldest son follows everything that happens around Athletic, and the youngest girl already play soccer tournaments. She is already 14 years old, and one time she went to New England to watch the Galaxys, and took a photo of her and David Beckham.

Why did you decide to stay in New Port? Because of the family. I miss the basque country much, and my brothers and my mother as well. But when I come to Markina I also miss my family en New Port much.

Which period was your best in the world of cesta punta?
The one in West Palm Beach. There were days when well over a million dollars were spent on betting on the players, and the NJAF also had much success. The fronton was full, and now it makes me very sad to see the state of the game.

During those days you guys were famous.
I remember that you had to be 21 to enter the discoteques. But if you were a Jai Alai player, you didn’t even have to stand in line.

What was the reason for the change that occured in the popularity?
The scratch lottery gave jai alai tough competition because it is much faster; and the strike came at a bad time. You also have to keep in mind that the slot machines don’t demand salary, and don’t get ill or injured, and they also don’t want ay vacation or anything. If they break, you just take it away and replace it with another one.

Is there any way to bring the game back?
If there would have been one, more frontons would already have opened. I imagine that the first thing would be, like in any other business, to invest a lot of money and then start getting some propaganda out to the public.

Source: Translated from Master Jai

Irastorza and Alliez in Gernika

Laurent Alliez and Eric Irastorza watched yesterdays game in Gernika. Alliez because of his injury, that has now been operated and is healing fine. Irastorza has spent the last days in the Basque country to be together with his family after his mother passed away after a time of illness.

Our thoughts are with Eric and his family!

bild-5Source: Master Jai