Tag Archives: Logrono

Martinez de Irujo and Zabaleta consolidate while Olaizola and Ibai Zabala climb the tree

There was high octane play in the Riojan capital of Logrono on Sunday evening as table toppers Martinez de Irujo and Zabaleta came from behind to beat Titin III and Merino II 22-20 in a match that lasted almost an hour and a half. The momentum of the game changed on a sixpence many times over. The defending champions, playing front of a passionate home crowd, started the better, going 3-0 ahead. Even when they were pegged back and overtaken, they found the strength to forge on again, taking their lead to 10-6, 12-7 and 13-8. Irujo and Zabaleta fought back however, drawing level at fourteen and then sixteen apiece. Titin and Merino looked to have rediscovered their command of the situation when they took a 19-16 and 20-18 lead, but again they were undone with the increasingly powerful Irujo and Zabaleta coming through at the death to take four consecutive points, and with them the win. While there was much scintillating play to thrill the Adarraga crowd, there were also many mistakes, but these did not detract from the drama of the game. Especially engrossing was the tooth and nail fight at the back of the fronton between the two young defenders, who gave yet another demonstration of the youthful talent which fills Aspe’s roster.

Aimar Olaizola and Ibai Zabala moved up to second in the table on Saturday with a hard fought 22-19 victory over former top pair Bengoetxea VI and Beroiz. Labrit was full for this much anticipated encounter, as locals came in their droves to see whether the combined solidity of Bengoetxea and Beroiz would be enough to dampen the spark of Olaizola. Though the pair in blue pushed them all the way however, Goizueta’s most famous son proved once more that despite an inexperienced partner in tow, any pair with him at the helm will be very hard to stop. The game was very even from the start with the spoils shared at 3-3, but Olaizola and Zabala soon moved into a 6-3 lead. Beroiz failed to place enough pressure on Olaizola and fed him too many easy balls with which he was all too willing to mete out punishment; 6-3 became 8-3. Bengoetxea staged a fight back however, and with Beroiz in increasingly solid support seized the lead back at 9-10, and then 9-12, with some dominant shot play. It cost the red pair much effort to fight back but they scrapped their way to the lead again at 14-13. Deadlock ensued as the pairs could not be separated, tied at 17, 18 and 19. From this juncture thought, Olaizola stepped up a gear, and wasted little time in hitting his way to victory, 22-19 the final score. Bengoetxea and Beroiz, who looked invincible a few weeks back, are now on something of a losing run. Olaizola and Ibai Zabala, on the other hand, may now dare to dream of the semi-finals. There is a short highlights video on etb, here.

Meanwhile, in the Promocion Championship, Gorka and Cecilio became the only unbeaten pair in the competition, beating Apezetxea and Larrinaga 22-16 in Logrono. They now sit atop the table alone. At Labrit, Mendizabal III and Merino put Aritz Lasa (playing for Olazabal) and Arruti to the sword, winning 22-6.

Irujo and Zabaleta are in a position of strength

Irujo and Zabaleta are in a position of strength

Photo: mine

Upset at Adarraga: Titin succumbs to Arretxe

Sunday 21st October, Logrono


Cuatro y Medio Championship 2nd round

Aspe, cashing in on the popularity of Titin III in Logrono, chose to stage his Cuatro y Medio second round tie in the Riojan capital. However, if the empresa intended this as a coronation, a way to usher their experienced campaigner into the league stage, Iker Arretxe refused to read the script. The first half of the match was incredibly tight, with ties at 4, 5, 7, 8, 10 and 12. Nobody proved able to gain an advantage of more than two points; Titin did this on two occasions, raising hopes that he was beginning to break from the shackles imposed on him by his determined rival, but Arretxe proved tough, playing with speed and verve. The younger man imposed himself for a time thereafter, forging ahead to a 17-12 lead, but to the delight of all at Adarraga, their hero closed to 19-19, punishing Arretxe out wide. A grandstand finish looked in prospect, but Arretxe killed the home party by taking the next three points to reach 22 and break Riojan hearts. After his defeat of the 2007 champion, Arretxe finds himself in uncharted waters. He has never reached this stage of the tournament before but now enters the quarter final league, where he will face Xala on Friday.

Scoring sequence: 1-0/ 2/ 2-4/ 4/ 5/ 7/ 8/ 10-8/ 10/ 12-10/ 12/ 12-17/ 16-17/ 16-19/ 19/ 19-22
Titin: 4 service winners, 1 service error, 1 4 ½ line error, 10 winners
Arretxe: 1 service winner, 16 winners
Strikes of the ball: 263
Match time: 55.41 with 9.43 of actual play

Titin and Merino crown Logroño’s party with San Mateo triumph

Sunday 23rd September, Logrono
San Mateo Final

Any team which lines up at Adarraga for the final of San Mateo against a pair containing Augusto Ibanez knows they will be up against it. Titin III is the undisputed hero of the pelota lovers of Logrono and claims near ownership of the fronton, over which his painted image looms with authority. Add into the mix the new darling of the sport in Rioja, David Merino, and you have an atmosphere fit to lift the roof. Facing the reigning pairs champions in any context is a stern challenge, but in one such as this the stakes are very definitely raised. Into this cauldron walked Pablo Berasaluze and Jon Ander Albisu, with the aim of upsetting a very considerable apple cart. The Asegarce partnership came into the final in sterling form, having defeated Olaizola II and Apraiz, and then Xala and Barriola on the way, but despite coming to the brink of triumph, the Riojan juggernaut proved one step too far.

The match was a tale of tension and attrition, marked more by errors than scintillating shot play. This theme was set from the start when Merino handed the opening point to the visitors with a high strike. Berasaluze then ceded the early initiative with an entirely unnecessary service error. However, the terrier like forward, again showing an iron determination, wrenched it back with a txoko winner, before his pair strode on to a 4-1 lead thanks to another error from Merino and an excellent rebote from Albisu. Although the Riojans steadied the ship initially, Berasaluze and Albisu maintained the upper hand in the early stages, taking an 8-3 lead thanks to some dynamic close play from the former and a lack of radar on the part of Merino, who desperately tried to exert pressure on his opposite number.

Merino finally cracked Albisu on 4-8 to put his pair within three and despite an error from Titin in the next play, Albisu handed them a reprieve by hitting low himself. The point on 6-9 was perhaps a turning point in the momentum of the match. Every single player found themselves in a hole at some point in the rally and to the delight of the crowd managed to salvage it. Attack followed attack before Titin grabbed the point with a stunning close range gantxo which seemed to pierce Berasaluze’s soul. Merino erred in the next point but there was a notable shift of mood in Adarraga and it took the Asegarce pair a full eight points to trouble the scorers again. As if to underline the new state of play, Merino demolished Albisu for 8-10, forcing him to hit wide from a steepling high ball. Rattled, both he and Berasaluze made errors in turn and from a position of clear weakness the Riojans now had an 11-10 lead. They did not let up as two winners from Titin were followed by a masterful flat ball to the corner from Merino which well and truly bamboozled Albisu.

Despite this clear shift in the ebb and flow of the match however, Berasaluze and Albisu refused to cave. Proving that he was not intimidated by the brilliance of Merino, Albisu nailed him back to reduce the deficit to 11-14. They maintained the gap at three at 13-16 but infuriatingly for their fans, failed to make the pressure pay with an error apiece. At 18-13, Titin and Merino had breathing space. Again though, they came back, defying the partisan local crowd to push their heroes to the utmost limits. It was Albisu who inspired the final revival, adding three superb points to their tally, the best of which was an extraordinary skimming txoko from deep, which took everyone by surprise. A gantxo from Berasaluze, now goading his partner on, and and error a piece from Titin and Merino produced a tie at 19-19. The match was impossible to call; would the momentum stay with the Asegarce pair who had showed such determination to storm back, or would the home crowd lift Titin and Merino, so desperate to win the tournament which seemed theirs by the force of local will? As it happened, the ending was tame and disappointing. The comeback ended abruptly and Berasaluze and Albisu reverted to error making to hand San Mateo to the jubilant favourites, the toasts of the city of Logrono.

Scoring sequence: 0-1, 1-1, 1-4, 3-4, 3-8, 5-8, 5-9, 7-9, 7-10, 14-10, 14-11, 16-11, 16-13, 18-13, 18-18, 19-18, 19-19, 22-19
Winners/errors: Titin 6/2, Berasaluze 4/6, Merino 3/9, Albisu 4/7
Balls hit: 540
Match time: 1:16.55 with 26:43 of actual play

David Merino made errors but performed when it mattered

David Merino made errors but performed when it mattered

 Photo from Aspepelota under Creative Commons

San Mateo: the story so far

Moving house this week has rather messed with my intended coverage of San Mateo, Logrono’s major festival, but there is still much excitement to come in the Riojan capital this weekend. Six pairs squared up when the tournament opened last Saturday, with Olaizola II-Apraiz, Berasaluze VIII-Albisu and Xala-Barriola in Group A, and Gonzalez-Zubieta, Titin III-Merino II and Bengoetxea VI-Begino in Group B. Each pair plays each of the others in their group with the winners of each group progressing to the final, to be held on Sunday. The results of the group matches played thus far are as follows:

Group A

Saturday 15th September

Tuesday 18th September

Thursday 20th September

As the only unbeaten pair, Berasaluze VIII – Albisu progress to the final.

Group B

Sunday 16th September
3-0/ 3-2/ 4-2/ 4-5/ 5/ 10-5/ 10-8/ 11-8/ 11-16/ 12-16/ 12-17/ 15-17/ 15-22

Wednesday 19th September

The final group match, between TITIN III – MERINO II and BENGOETXEA VI – BEGINO takes place tonight, with the winner progressing to the final. TV coverage details to follow!

Titin, along with Merino II, aims for home glory

Titin, along with Merino II, aims for home glory

Image by Yon Garin under Creative Commons

Pairs Semi-Finals: Titin III and Merino II set Adarraga alight in home win

Sunday 1st April, Logrono


In front of a partisan crowd at Adarraga, Titin and Merino got their semi final campaign off to the best possible start against Xala and Laskurain. The contest between the two Aspe pairs to have made the semi finals was an excellent one with the forwards in particularly sparkling form. It appeared as if Titin and Merino would run away with it as they swept to an 11-1 lead, fuelled by Titin’s serve and Merino’s incision from the back. Laskurain found the young defender rather too hot to handle in this early period and Titin’s power to put points away never wavered. Xala and Laskurain took their second point thanks to a lapse from the veteran forward and improbably dragged themselves back into the game at 12-9. However, the Riojans raised their game, restoring their comfortable lead with four points in a row. Xala and Laskurain chipped away at their score to come within four points at 16-20, but the final blows came fairly comfortably for the winners who must surely have been relieved that their opponents’ comeback ended when it did; a loss from 11-1 up would not have done wonders for morale. Titin and Merino find themselves second in the semi-final league, having won by a smaller margin than Olaizola II and Beroiz managed over Berasaluze VIII and Albisu on Friday. They play the table toppers this coming weekend in what promises to be a high octane clash.

Scoring sequence: 1-0/ 1/ 1-11/ 4-11/ 4-12/ 9-12/ 9-16/ 10-16/ 10-19/ 11-19/ 14-19/ 14-20/ 16-20/ 16-22

Winners/errors: Titin 15/4, Xala 9/3, Merino 3/3, Laskurain 0/2

Match time: 67 minutes with 28 minutes of actual play

Balls hit: 569

Titin III and Merino II surge into the semi-finals

Friday 19th March, Logrono


The stage was set in Logrono for the local boys Titin and Merino to strike out for the semi-finals and they duly obliged, defeating a pair who had hoped to seize such a prize for themselves. Berasaluze and Albisu, despite their disappointing inability to be competitive here, are still right in the hunt but must wait for the final week to try again after crumbling in front of the baying Riojan masses who created a splendid atmosphere at Adarraga.

The game did not start as the home team might have wished, with two errors in a row from Merino. However, any suggestion that he had failed to settle was swiftly shouted down in the third point where he astounded Berasaluze by firing in a txoko winner. From this juncture, the tide began to turn and a raft of mistakes, notably from Albisu, combined with the discipline of Merino and the potency of Titin started to tell. Berasaluze showed glimpses of what he can do with a smattering of impressive points, but it was essentially one way traffic all the way to 15-5. When the game seemed up, something stirred in Berasaluze and he won his pair six points in a row, five from outright winners and one from an error enforced upon Merino. He was a different player in this spell and it was Titin who was forced to fight for scraps. However, any panic on the part of the Riojans was ameliorated when Albisu handed the serve back them by hitting low. Despite an error apiece from the leading pair, Berasaluze was unable to restore his blistering momentum  and five unnecesasary errors on the bounce from the Asegarce duo followed by Titin’s third sakez winner propelled the game’s dominators into the semi-finals. As they embraced with delight in front of a rapturous home crowd, Berasaluze and Albisu were forced to rue a chance missed.

Scoring sequence: 0-2, 1-2, 2-2, 3-2, 3-3, 10-3, 10-4, 12-4, 12-5, 15-5, 15-6, 15-11, 16-11, 16-12, 17-12, 17-14, 22-14.

Winners/errors: Titin 10/0, Berasaluze 10/2, Merino 3/2, Albisu 2/7

Match time: 1:08.09 with 18:25 of actual play

Balls hit: 391

Pablo Berasaluze must try again on Saturday

Pablo Berasaluze must try again on Saturday

 Photo: mine

Pairs, week 11: five pairs now fight for three places

Saturday 3rd March, Pamplona: BENGOETXEA VI – APRAIZ beat ARITZ LASA – PASCUAL* 22-10

It is over and out for Aritz Lasa and the luckless Zubieta. There was talk of Zubieta returning this week but with qualification almost out of the question and a sensible desire to recover completely from the hand troubles which have plagued him this year, Pascual once again took up the mantle. Oinatz Bengoetxea has lacked consistency thus far in the tournament and needed a performance from the top drawer to remind both himself and us what a great player he is. At Labrit, he found his mojo with a staggering sixteen winners to no errors. Aritz Lasa, who showed flashes of brilliance last week, could not so much as hint at that this time round with a return of six to three. The defenders were more evenly matched, but in the face of a forward so completely on top of his game, their effect on the outcome of the match was minimal at best. Bengoextea and Apraiz are right in the frame for one of the remaining three semi-final places and with the unlikely demise of Irujo and Barriola, their chances look all the brighter.

Scoring sequence: 2-0, 2-2, 4-2, 4-5, 14-5, 14-6, 20-6, 20-10, 22-10

Winners/errors: Bengoetxea 16/0, Apraiz 2/2, Lasa 6/3, Pascual 1/1

Match time: 49 minutes

Pamplonas famous Labrit fronton

Pamplona's famous Labrit fronton

Saturday 3rd March, Amorebieta: BERASALUZE VIII – ALBISU beat XALA – LASKURAIN 22-12

This match was all about Pablo Berasaluze. Perhaps sensing that things were getting exceedingly tight in the fight for semi-final berths, the man from Berriz utterly annihilated Manomanista champion Xala in a whirlwind display of dominance. Fifteen winners in open play plus two with the serve tells its own story. In the face of this, Xala could only muster only one winner to one error. Xala and Laskurain had previously taken four matches in a row, but their run was brought to an abrupt halt as the Asegarce pair took their second win in as many weeks to slip into second place in the standings.

Scoring sequence: 1-1, 1-2, 2-5, 2-6, 3-11, 3-12, 4-12, 7-13, 8-15, 9-15, 11-16, 12-20, 12-22

Winners/errors: Xala 1/1, Laskurain 1/3, Berasaluze 17/6, Albisu 1/3

Match time: 1:23

Balls hit: 703

Berasaluze appears to like Amorebieta

Berasaluze appears to like Amorebieta

Sunday 4th March, Logrono: OLAIZOLA II – BEROIZ beat TITIN III – MERINO II 22-16

One almost runs out of things to say when reporting on yet another win for Olaizola and Beroiz, but at Adarraga their lives were not made easy. The home pairing of Titin and Merino took the game to the undefeated duo with much verve and no fear. Olaizola and Beroiz went ahead early, leading comfortably at 8-2 and 10-4, but their rivals fought back, taking the lead, and the match became exceedingly tight. The favourites drew level again at 15 and 16 and it seemed as if it would go down to the wire, with Olaizola showing rare signs of weakness. However, one crack in the Riojan army and he was able to seize the initiative, adding to his total of fifteen winners on his way to a 22-16 win which was in reality a closer run thing than the score might suggest. Beroiz was, again, imperious in defence, shading Merino in a battle of exciting young talent.

Scoring sequence: 0-2, 1-5, 2-8, 4-10, 8-10, 11-11, 11-13, 13-13, 15-13, 15-15, 16-16, 16-22

Winners/errors: Olaizola 15/4, Beroiz 1/1, Titin 9/3, Merino 2/3

Match time: 64 minutes

Balls hit: 499

The Pairs table, with three weeks to go, looks like this:









1 OLAIZOLA II – BEROIZ 11 11 0 242 135 +107
2 BERASALUZE VIII – ALBIS U 11 6 5 204 183 +21
3 TITIN III – MERINO II 11 6 5 211 198 +13
4 XALA – LASKURAIN 11 6 5 199 190 +9
5 BENGOETXEA VI – APRAIZ 11 6 5 194 197 -3
6 MTZ de IRUJO – BARRIOLA 11 5 6 205 191 +14
7 ARITZ LASA – ZUBIETA 11 3 8 170 217 -47
8 ARRETXE II – BEGINO 11 1 10 121 235 -114

 Photos: mine

Cuatro y Medio: wins for Irujo and Xala make dream semi-final line up complete

Sunday 23rd October, Eibar


Juan Martinez de Irujo admitted himself that he had no idea how he beat Oinatz Bengoetxea on Sunday. Bengoetxea was up 12-5 and had the defending champion well and truly on the ropes and ‘out of options’. Even having let his opponent back into the game at 12-10, Bengoetxea marched on with ease, playing with pace and verve, to 16-11. Having once again opened a telling gap, it seemed as if Irujo was dead in the water. However, Irujo is the king of the improbable comeback, as he showed in the final last year when Barriola opened up a sizeable gap upon him but went on to lose. Playing with his chosen balls he made his serve count, using it to win six points outright. He moved ahead for the first time in the game at 17-16 and by this time, Bengoetxea was a different opponent, demoralised and unable to break the relentless streak of his rival.

Scoring sequence: 0-3, 6-3, 6-4, 7-4, 7-5, 12-5, 12-10, 13-10, 13-11, 16-11, 16-17, 17-17, 17-22.

Bengoetxea VI: winners (8) errors (7) service winners (2) service errors (0), 4 ½ line faults (0)

Martinez de Irujo: winners (9) errors (5) service winners (6) service errors (1), 4 ½ line faults (1)

Match time: 42:56, with 9:46 of actual play

Botilleros: Asier García with Bengoetxea VI and Patxi Eugi with Irujo

Irujo came from behind to qualify

Irujo came from behind to qualify

Sunday 23rd October, Longroño

XALA beat TITIN III 22-17

Titin had home advantage for this quarter final tie and the Riojan fans did everything they could to lift their hero. Well aware of the fact that this may be his last chance for Cuatro y Medio glory, his retirement possibly encroaching, the home favourite went at Xala hammer and tongs and put him seriously on the back foot. Falling to a 0-6 deficit, Xala appeared nervous and the crowds sensed blood. The Manomanista champion picked up points in ones and twos, moving from 1-7 to 5-7 and 6-10, but from 7-11 he found his feet in style, picking up seven points in a row to lead 14-11 and undo all of Titin’s early supremacy. Titin scrapped to stay in touch, but in reality no longer looked like a winner, his demeanour radically altered. Xala moved serenely towards the last four, wasting little time in closing the deal after establishing a five point lead at 20-15.

With Xala’s victory, the semi-final line up is complete and is in the eyes of most the dream quartet. Martinez de Irujo and Olaizola II kick off proceedings in Bilbao on Saturday, before Xala and Barriola meet on Sunday in Eibar in an effort to deal the opening blows of the elite round-robin stage.

Scoring sequence: 0-6, 1-6, 1-7, 5-7, 5-9, 6-10, 7-11, 14-11, 14-13, 16-13, 16-15, 20-15, 20-16, 21-16, 21-17, 22-17.

Xala: winners (9) errors (8) service winners (1) service errors (0) 4 ½ line faults (0)

Titin III: winners (8) errors (10) service winners (2) service errors (0) 4 ½ line faults (1)

Match time: 75:00

Balls hit: 391

Botilleros: Aitor Zubieta with Xala and Joaquín Plaza with Titín


Xala saw off the threat of Titin

Xala saw off the threat of Titin

The semi-final line up is also now complete in the Promocion Championship. On Friday in Beasain Mendizabal III thrashed Rico IV 22-6, In Pamplona on Saturday Ongay beat Tainta 22-16, in Logroño on Sunday Albisu triumphed 22-15 over Apezetxea while Lemuno beat Olazabal 22-12 in Eibar. The first semi-final is on Saturday in Balmaseda where Lemuno takes on Albisu. On Tuesday, Mendizabal III plays Ongay in Eibar.

Images from: Noticias de Navarra and Argia. Source: Diario Vasco

Aimar and Beroiz, Kings of San Mateo

Many apologies for the lack of recent updates; I have been in France and unable to post. I missed the San Mateo final as a result, but I can report that it was won by OLAIZOLA II -BEROIZ, comfortably beating MARTINEZ DE IRUJO – MERINO 22-13 at Adarraga. Quoted by Asegarce, Olaizola stated that they had been focussed from the start, with Beroiz playing a good game and himself taking the sting out of Irujo’s pace. Beroiz, for his part, expressed his delight at winning his first title for his new empresa. Olaizola was named the undisputed player of the tournament, continuing in the final where he had left off in his devastating hammering of Berasaluze VIII in the previous match.

San Mateo: Aimar Olaizola Destroys His Opposition

Sunday 18th September, Logrono


Aimar Olaizola was in devastating form in the opening match of the San Mateo tournament, putting to the sword Pablo Berasaluze and champion defender Aritz Begino in staggering fashion. He amassed sixteen winners and nobody else managed a solitary one. The game started competitively, with the sides drawn at 3-3, but from there the floodgates opened. Berasaluze has been in fine form in recent weeks, but here he was taken apart as Aimar displayed the full range of his shot making, pulling off nine gantxos, two dejadas, four volleys and a beautiful dos paredes. By the closing stages, Berasaluze appeared to have given up, utterly outclassed and without a hope of stemming the tide. Begino did what he could to keep Olaizola out of the game, but it was to no avail. Beroiz was an excellent support from deep, making only one error and providing Olaizola with immaculate service with which to work his magic. The victors play Titin III and Zubieta on Friday; it remains to be seen whether the former can do anything about the Goizuetarra’s elemental force.

Scoring sequence: 0-1, 1-1, 1-2, 2-2, 3-2, 3-3, 3-11, 4-11, 4-14, 5-15 , 5-22

Match time: 38 minutes, with 16 minutes of actual play

Service winners: Olaizola 2, Berasaluze 1

Winners/errors: Olaizola 16/0, Berasaluze 0/2, Beroiz 0/1, Begino 0/3

In the San Mateo encounter on Saturday 17th, MARTINEZ DE IRUJO and MERINO I beat BENGOETXEA VI and PATXI RUIZ 22-13. The losers will have to defeat Xala and Laskurain on 2oth to stand any chance of progressing.

Berasaluze was taken apart by Aimar

Berasaluze was taken apart by Aimar

Image: mine