Tag Archives: Olaizola I

Pelota on ETB, 10th-12th May

Friday 10th May, Tolosa


Followed by BEROIZ v ALBISU Manomanista

Sunday 12th May, Eibar


Followed by JAUNARENA v ZABALETA Manomanista

To watch, go to http://www.eitb.tvhttps://www.eitb.eus/es/television/etb-sat/or https://www.eitb.eus/es/deportes/deporte-en-directo/

Presenting the Finalists: Berasaluze II and Albisu

Pablo Berasaluze Zabala was born in 1977 in Berriz, a town of around 5000 inhabitants nestled between Durango and Zaldibar in Bizkaia. He made his professional debut in 1998 at the age of 20, at the Municipal Fronton of Bergara, after a successful amateur career which saw him take the Liga Vasca de Clubes title in 1994 and the Torneo El Diario Vasco pairs title in 1997. Although he has been a regular feature in the top flight of pelota for many years, Berasaluze has yet to win a major championship title. His Pairs Championship record is not a stellar one; he has reached the semi-finals on only two occasions in seven attempts, but the second of these appearances came last year with Albisu, his partner this time round. On that occasion they won only one of their semis in what was essentially a dead rubber against Titin III and Zabaleta (the latter replacing Merino II for the eventual champions). This year they have fought to the death and come through against all the odds, testament to the fighting spirit for which Berasaluze is famous. He plays with commitment and extraordinary verve, his small stature combined with his determination reminding one of a terrier at work. A terrific player who has bloomed late in his career, Berasaluze surely deserves at least one major championship txapela to show for his efforts and in the year when he changed his playing name from Berasaluze VIII to Berasaluze II in honour of his late father, a win on Sunday would be a fitting tribute.

Pairs record
2003 with Beloki, group stages
2004 with Zearra, group stages
2005 with Patxi Ruiz, group stages
2009 with Zearra, semi-finals
2010 with Begino, group stages
2011 with Apraiz, group stages
2012 with Albisu, semi-finals

Previous professional titles

Jon Ander Albisu is, at the age of 22, a pelotari just coming into his own. Regarded since the start of his career as a huge talent who could not find consistency, this tournament has represented a watershed; his playing has at times been erratic but at times inspired and coupled with the dynamism of Berasaluze his determination has seen him through. Albisu was born in Ataun, in the Goierri region of Gipuzkoa. He has an impressive amateur palmares which includes the Torneo del Antiguo pairs title in 2008, the championship of Euskadi individual titles in 2009 and 2010 and the GRAVN individual crown in 2010. These showings were enough to merit a contract with Asegarce, with whom he made his debut in July 2010 in Tolosa. A year later he took his only professional title to date, winning the Promocion Pairs Championship with Olaetxea, beating Gorka and Merino I in the final. In 2012 he was promoted to the top tier tournament, making the semi-finals with current partner Berasaluze. Whatever happens on Sunday, the 2013 Pairs final will be a defining moment in Albisu’s career, the moment he moved from promising young player to genuine title contender. He has shown a great deal of grit in this championship, absorbing much criticism in the press to come good when it matters. He will be scrutinised more than anyone else, for Asegarce’s victory bid rests on which Albisu takes to the fronton, the confident new star or the inconsistent youngster.

Pairs record
2012 with Berasaluze II, semi-finals

Previous professional titles
2011 Promocion Pairs Championship, with Olaetxea

Photos: mine

Mikel Idoate signs with Asegarce

Asegarce yesterday announced the signing of Mikel Idoate from Aspe for two years. He follows in the footsteps of Mikel Beroiz and Ladis Galarza who have both left Aspe for the Bilbao company in recent times. The move is likely fuelled the abundance of talent in the forwards department at Aspe, counterbalanced by the relative lack of it at Asegarce. Idoate has fallen into the gap between top tier pairs selection and the promocion tournaments, and is increasingly losing out to new talents like Ezkurdia and Jaunarena who are being pushed into the limelight. He is too good to be allowed to fall by the wayside. This move should revitalise the career of the 23 year old from Txantrea and afford him plentiful opportunities in the top flight. Asegarce have struggled for two or three years for a fourth elite forward to sit alongside Aimar Olaizoola, Bengoetxea VI and Berasaluze II. Asier Olaizola has been on the wane for a while and Iker Arretxe has failed to rise to the task on too many occasions. Idoate gives them new young blood and a talent bursting to show itself. He will play his first match for his new empresa on Saturday in Pamplona, where he is paired with Apraiz against Urrutikoetxea and Begino.

Wins for Bengoetxea VI, Berasaluze VIII and Retegi Bi in the Cuatro y Medio second round

It was a busy weekend of Cuatro y Medio action. As discussed in my previous post, Arretxe upset Titin to make the last eight and three others also booked their places in the quarter final league.

The first of these was Oinatz Bengoetxea, who beat Mikel Urrutikoetxea 22-7 in Balmaseda on Friday. It was an easy win for the former Manomanista chamopion, who had far too much pace for his less experienced rival. He barely needed to stretch in order to control the fronton and send Urrutikoetxea running in all directions to little avail. Despite the overwhelming superiority of his vanquisher, especially in the volleying department, Urrutikoetxea fought until the very last, showing flashes of the talent which will surely make him a more important player in years to come. The match statistics were as follows:

Bengoetxea: 14 winners, 4 errors
Urrutikoetxea: 3 winners, 5 errors
Strikes of the ball: 243
Match time: 44.56 with 10.00 of actual play

In Bilbao on Saturday, Pablo Berasaluze beat Asier Olaizola 22-11. Olaizola, so impressive in destroying Idoate the previous week, had no match for the bustling pace of Berasaluze. The man from Berriz volleyed with great aplomb and his serve proved lethal, netting him nine points outright. Olaizola played well with his right but in every other way was found wanting as Berasaluze ran out the comfortable winner.

Scoring sequence: 0-2, 3-2, 3-3, 3-8, 6-8, 6-10, 8-13, 9-14, 11-14, 11-22
Berasaluze: 9 service winners, 1 service error
Olaizola: 2 service winners
Strikes of the ball: 153
Match time: 38 minutes

Retegi Bi defeated Ekaitz Saralegi 22-13 on in Tolosa on Monday to become the final recipient of a place in the last eight. Saralegi got off to a flying start and all looked set fair when he led 11-4, a lead established by means of some scintillating cross court play. However, he failed to drive home his advantage as Retegi settled into the match. As he closed to 8-12 and then 12-12, Saralegi looked increasingly fatigued and at a loss as to how to stop the momentum of his opponent. From 13-14, Retegi seized eight points in a row to reach 22 and end the hopes of the man from Amezketa.

Scoring sequence: 1-0, 1-4, 11-4, 12-8, 12-12, 13-14, 13-22
Saralegi: 1 service error
Retegi Bi: 3 service winners
Strikes of the ball: 294
Match time: 56 minutes

The draw for the quarter final league is now complete. Olaizola II (defending champion), Martinez de Irujo, Xala and Barriola qualified as of right and are joined by Arretxe II, Bengoetxea VI, Berasaluze VIII and Retegi Bi. Group one consists of Olaizola, Xala, Bengoetxea and Arretxe, with the others in group two. The first rotation’s fixtures are as follows:

Friday 26th October, Hendaye: XALA v ARRETXE II
Saturday 27th October, Pamplona: OLAIZOLA II v BENGOETXEA VI
Sunday 28th October, Eibar: MARTINEZ DE IRUJO v RETEGI BI
Monday 29th October, Gernika: BARRIOLA v BERASALUZE VIII

Pablo Berasaluze is into the last eight

Pablo Berasaluze is into the last eight

Photo: mine

Asier Olaizola thwarts Idoate with pace and experience

Friday 12th October, Lekunberri


Cuatro y Medio round one

The feature match at Lekunberri on Friday had the potential to be an extremely interesting one, throwing an experienced campaigner into the mix against a young talent trying to cement his place in the top tier. Mikel Idoate, 23, had fought with great aplomb through two qualifying rounds to reach this stage and given Asier Olaizola’s lack of anything resembling stunning recent form, it was tempting to make the young pretender favourite. However, Olaizola, now 37 years old, began with dominance and let his experience show, never allowing Idoate into the game.

Idoate was entirely to blame for the manner in which he ended up on the back foot at the outset, hitting wide twice and then low. Three Olaizola service winners and a winner to the wide court later later and it was 7-0 to the Goizuetan. Idoate’s head fell and the road back seemed extremely long. He was handed his first four points thanks to Olaizola’s first four errors, but failed to capitalise. At 4-10, he was still hanging onto the coat tails of the match but at 4-16 it was, to all intents and purposes, game over. Idoate had shown such fight in coming back against Aritz Lasa the previous Sunday but try as he might, this time nothing worked. Olaizola’s calm point building created pressure enough for him to err on several occasions but many errors were avoidable, such as the sequence from 17-5 to 21-5 in which he killed any hope of a miraculous return by repeatedly failing to strike the ball with any of his usual cleanliness. Idoate showed some form only when it was far too late, producing three winners in a row to close from 5-21 to 8-21, but an authoritative cross court winner provided the final nail in Idoate’s coffin.

This was a consummate performance from Asier Olaizola, the like of which we have not seen in some time. His pace and rhythm were simply too much for Idoate, who looked jaded and out of sorts. Olaizola proceeds to round two, where he has a habit of falling in this championship, to face Pablo Berasaluze. Logically Berasaluze must start the more fancied, his vim and vigour having served him well against formidable opposition in recent weeks, but if Asier can rediscover his form of Friday, an upset is certainly far from impossible.

Scoring sequence: 7-0, 7-1, 8-1, 8-2, 10-2, 10-4, 16-4, 16-5, 21-5, 21-8, 22-8
Winners/errors: Olaizola 12/6, Idoate 2/10
Balls hit: 232
Match time: 35:46

Idoate ends comeback from Asier Olaizola to take semi final berth

Saturday 19th May, Pamplona


Mikel Idoate has made the Manomanista semi finals for the second year running with a tight win over Asier Olaizola at Labrit. The young forward looked to have matters very much under control, having surged to a 14-5 lead, but with the help of six service winners and a powerful right hand, Asier managed to close his deficit to 15-16. However, Idoate had the strength to move forward again, restoring a four point gap at 20-16. Olaizola closed to 18-20 and with the serve his, it appeared as if his experience might yet bring him to the finishing line. However, it was not to be as Idoate closed him out to take his place in the last four, where he will meet either Martinez de Irujo or defending champion Xala.

Scoring sequence: 4-0, 4-9, 5-14, 8-16, 15-16, 16-20, 18-20, 18-22

A cool head saw Idoate through

A cool head saw Idoate through

Image: mine

Manomanista: Asier Olaizola makes short work of Aritz Lasa

Friday 11th May, Santo Domingo de la Calzada


Not much has been seen of Asier Olaizola recently, missing as he did the Pairs Championship, so it was anybody’s guess as to what he would bring to the table here. Aritz Lasa was more of a known quantity; although his Pairs campaign was less that brilliant, he looked utterly in control in beating a rusty Aitor Zubieta last week and on that performance he was surely the favourite on Friday. However, Lasa is nothing if not inconsistent and he endured a torrid evening against Olaizola, who proved that he can be a player in this tournament.

Lasa took the first point with a service winner but sadly for the man from Urretxu, this was to prove the high point of his match as he never led again. He played with great confidence to draw level with Olaizola at 2-2, bombing his opponent with high balls until he fell short, but thereafter it was a different story. Olaizola took the score from 2-2 to 8-3 in the blink of an eye, dominating both with the serve and in the more attritional rallies. He proved adept at creating space into which to hit clear winners, using the dos paredes twice to great effect. Lasa threatened a revival, coming to within two points at 6-8, thanks to a winner into space out wide and a beautifully placed cross court ball, but Olaizola replied with five straight points, consistently ruling the front of the playing area and sending his opponent back into desperate defence. Lasa managed three more points, two of those thanks to momentary lapses from Olaizola, but it was otherwise one way traffic for the remainder of the match as 14-9 became 22-9. Olaizola used his serve extremely effectively and almost never let Lasa into a tactical position of strength. When Lasa did have a chance at a winner, and a golden opportunity to build some momentum of his own, he blew the easy txoko winner. This was the final nail in the coffin as Olaizola marched on apace. A high strike from Lasa on 9-21 sealed his annihilation.

Asier Olaizola now joins his more illustrious younger brother in the quarter finals, where he will play Mikel Idoate on Sunday. On the strength of this display, he has a significant chance but Idoate will come at him full of determination with a place in the last four for the taking.

Scoring sequence: 0-1, 1-1, 2-1, 2-2, 5-2, 5-3, 8-3, 8-6, 13-6, 13-8, 14-8, 14-9, 22-9.

Winners/errors: Olaizola 12/4 with 3 service winners, Lasa 5/10 with no service winners

Manomanista Quarter Finals: Xala and Idoate through

Sunday 8th May, Eibar

XALA beat RETEGI BI 22-12

Some thought Julen Retegi might cause problems for Yves Salaberry on Sunday night, after his excellent performance against Urrutikoetxea the week before. However, while Retegi started with a flourish and showed great mettle, Xala proved beyond all doubt that he was in a different class. The classy left hander showed all the easy class that he displayed in the Pairs Championship, brushing his younger rival aside with a nonchalant sweep of the hand, calm, controlled and quietly brutal.

Retegi started the better of the pair, winning the first two points with tactical nouse and superb finishing. In the third, Xala fell short after a salvo of long shots from Retegi. However, Xala, completely relaxed, began to chip away at the three point deficit. He gifted Retegi another point by going wide after an attritional point, but with four textbook plays, wrenched the initiative firmly away. This swing in fortune was related in large part to his serve, which began to fire on all cylinders, but he also reminded his opponent and his viewers of the power of his left arm, going crosscourt with devastating power. Retegi pinned him back to 6-8 with a marvellous effort, putting the ball over Xala’s head having raced and dived from the back to reach it at all, but throughout this mid period of the game, Xala won points in batches, while his opponent stole the occasional one here and there. The power of Xala’s serve was again key, and Retegi’s inability to halt it made him seethe visibly with frustration.

Uncharacteristically, Xala served a falta to gift his serve away at 7-12, and Retegi responded with two excellent deliveries of his own, but with an advantage of only three, he slid up a gear, moving from 12-9 to 17-9 with a barrage of drops and volleys. He miscued one close to the side wall at allow Retegi his tenth point, and Retegi thought he had him again in the next rally, until he pulled a stunning crosscourt swipe out of nowhere, while pinned unceremoniously against the wall. There was no doubting the future direction of the game, as Retegi appeared a broken man. He managed two further points thanks to another Xala falta, and a dos paredes gone wrong, but Xala took no time to finish him off, with a ball over his head and a skimming canon ball past his nose. Xala proceeds to the semi finals, where he will play Idoate.

Scoring sequence: 0-3, 1-3, 1-4, 2-4, 2-5, 8-5, 8-6, 12-6, 12-9, 17-9, 17-10, 20-10, 20-12, 22-12.

Winners: Xala 16, Retegi Bi 6

Errors: Xala 3, Retegi Bi 2

Service winners: Xala 4, Retegi Bi 1

Service errors: Xala 2, Retegi Bi 0

Balls hit: 230

Match time: 47.10 minutes, with 10.32 minutes of actual play

Xala: no sweat

Xala: no sweat

In the other quarter final to be played this weekend, IDOATE beat OLAIZOLA I 22-8 (Saturday, Pamplona). The young pretender completely outclassed Asier Olaizola, who was playing his first match after returning from a knee injury sustained during the Pairs Championship. Olaizola was expected to be lacking match fitness, but he never managed to gain a foothold in the game, and the young pretender trumped him in every aspect of the game. His reward is a semi final against Xala.

The remaining quarter finals will be played this coming weekend, with Martinez de Irujo playing Olaizola II (14th, Bilbao) and Bengoetxea VI taking on Patxi Ruiz (15th, Pamplona).

In the Promocion Championship quarter finals, Jaunarena beat Lemuno 22-20 and Merino I beat Argote 22-17. The two winners will play each other in the semi finals on the 22nd.  

Image from Noticias de Gipuzkoa by Zigor Alkorta

Asier Olaizola out for two months, to be replaced by Saralegi

Asegarce have confirmed that Asier Olaizola does indeed have an injury to his anterior cruciate ligament, but an examination yesterday afternoon in Vitoria-Gasteiz brought some relief; the diagnosis is not as bad as originally feared. According to Doctor Mikel Sanchez, the tear is only partial, and Olaizola should be cleared to return to the fronton in around two months. The treatment will be conservative, as there is no need for surgery. His replacement in the Pairs championship will be Ekaitz Saralegi.

Image from Noticias de Alava