Shell shocked Xala beaten 22-12 by Arretxe
The quarter final rotations got underway last Friday, across the bay in Iparralde, when Arretxe II took on Xala in Hendaia. Nobody would have made Arretxe favourite for this game; Xala is by far the more decorated, the more experienced at this level and had near home advantage to boot. However, the upset happened. Xala was simply never in the game and looked utterly lacklustre, but nothing must be taken away from the underdog, for this was not a simple case of the favourite being dramatically off colour. Arretxe bossed almost every point, finishing with a whopping sixteen winners. That Xala made only six errors in a match where he was so comprehensively beaten is testament to Arretxe’s dominance. The final score is flattering to Xala, and came about thanks only to a relatively late rally from the former Manomanista champion, who mustered six winners in a row on the way from 3-18 to 12-19. However, any hope of an extraordinary comeback was dashed by some further Arretxe shot play. Xala appeared stunned, along with his legion of fans, and now has work to do to make the semis.
Scoring sequence: 0-5, 1-5, 1-10, 2-10, 2-14, 3-14, 3-18, 10-19, 12-19, 12-22.
Winners/errors: Xala 8/6, Arretxe 16/4
Balls hit: 197
Match time: 39:42 with 7:13 of actual play
Olaizola II beat Bengoetxea VI 22-13. The following day it was the turn of the defending champion to take the stage in Pamplona, and he demonstrated to the public in no uncertain terms why he has won this title on five occasions. Bengoetxea, although he has never been Cuatro y Medio champion, is a great exponent of the short court game, having won the Navarrese title twice, including the last two editions, but he found the going tough here, despite fighting every inch of the way in his customary style. Olaizola punished him with a physical game, littered with trademark left handed hooks, and although Bengoetxea pushed him close in the mid part of the game, closing to 8-10, he had little answer in the latter stages.
Scoring sequence: 3-0, 6-3, 10-3, 10-8, 13-10, 15-10, 17-11, 18-13, 22-13
Balls hit: 259
Match time: 46 minutes
On Sunday, the pelota cognoscenti gathered in Eibar, where Martinez de Irujo beat Retegi Bi 22-18. In contrast to Friday’s game, this one appeared to be matching the form book from the start, when Irujo stormed into a 10-1 lead. Playing with more speed and vigour than Retegi could handle, the man from Ibero was in complete control. However, spurred on by his great father in the botillero’s chair, the less lauded player fought his way back, first to 4-10 and from thence to 5-13, 13-14 and 15-15 before seizing the lead at 15-16 with his second service winner in a row. His lead grew when Irujo hit low for 15-17 and an upset looked on. However, Irujo snapped into action when it really mattered, breaking his opponent’s heart with a run of five straight points. Retegi pulled on back at 20-18 to restore a little hope, but when he hit high in the next point, Irujo wasted no time in producing a winning serve to take a win which was far less comfortable than it should have been.
Scoring sequence: 2-0, 2-1, 10-1, 10-2, 10-4, 12-4, 12-5, 14-5, 14-13, 15-13, 15-17, 20-17, 20-18, 22-18
Winners/errors: Irujo 16/10, Retegi Bi 8/6
Balls hit: 234
Match time: 40:40 with 9:51 of actual play
Berasaluze VIII beat Barriola 22-11. On Monday it was the turn of Abel Barriola and Pablo Berasaluze to strut their stuff as they clashed at Santanape in Gernika. This looked on paper to be a potential close run thing, but Berasaluze proved by far the stronger. He prevented Barriola from unleashing his left arm by taking many balls on the volley and defended like a terrier. With the score at 20-5 in Berasaluze’s favour, Barriola looked to be in for an embarrassing evening but the Leitzarra managed to rally to a degree, saving face by adding six further points. This was nowhere near enough however to prevent the Asegarce player from seizing the day.
Scoring sequence: 1-1, 2-2, 3-2, 3-7, 4-11, 5-20, 11-22
Balls hit: 200
Match time: 52 minutes
In the Promocion Championship, the results were as follows:
26th October, Arrigorriaga: OLAZABAL beat ELEZKANO II 22-19
27th October, Pamplona: JAUNARENA beat LEMUNO 22-16
27th October, Ezcaray: UNTORIA beat GORKA 22-18
28th October, Eibar: RICO IV beat APEZETXEA 22-12
This week, the main championship fixtures are:
Friday 2nd November, Leitza: XALA v BENGOETXEA VI
Saturday 3rd November, Pamplona: BERASALUZE VIII v MARTINEZ DE IRUJO
Sunday 4th November, Bilbao: BARRIOLA v RETEGI BI
Monday 5th November, Tolosa: OLAIZOLA II v ARRETXE II
The Promocion Championship games are:
Friday 2nd November, Leitza: JAUNARENA v UNTORIA
Saturday 3rd November, Pamplona: GORKA v LEMUNO
Sunday 4th November, Bilbao: APEZETXEA v ELEZKANO II
Monday 5th November: Tolosa: OLAZABAL v RICO IV