Tag Archives: Otxandorena

Otxandorena Retires

Inaki Otxandorena will play his last professional match this Saturday in Pamplona. He will be partnered by Ekaitz Saralegi against Rico IV and Inaki Iza.  The 35 year old defender from Mugaire has been a professional for almost fifteen years. He made his debut for Aspe in March 1998, moving to Asegarce, where he has stayed ever since,  in 2001. His best results came at San Fermin, which he won in 2004 and 2005, and at Zarautz where he was triumphant in 2004 and 2006. We wish him well in his retirement.

Over and out for Otxandorena

Over and out for Otxandorena

Photo: mine

Promocion Pairs: Jaunarena and Cecilio the first finalists

Jon Jaunarena and Cecilio Valganon have become the first pair to qualify for the final of the Promocion Pairs Championship. They reached the last two with their second win of the semi finals, taking a resounding 22-8 win over Mikel Olazabal and Inaki Larrinaga in Ezcaray on Friday. This win represents a massive signal of intent for the Navarre-Riojas duo, who after an excellent qualifying campaign were pipped to table leadership by Olazabal and Larrinaga. Either pair would have qualified for the final with a win here, but the erstwhile top partnership was smacked down with aplomb. They must now wait and try again on Sunday, when they face Rico IV and Untoria in a play off for the second final berth.

Rico IV and Untoria kept their hopes alive with an even more resounding win, over Urrutikoetxea and Otxandorena (the latter Iza’s stand-in) in an Vicente de la Sonsierra on Saturday. Urrutikoetxea has been put at a disadvantage ever since injury to Iza disrupted their progress, and has had to deal with two changes in partner. He and Otxandorena were no match for the Riojans here, losing 22-5. Their championship is now over. They do however have a chance to salvage some pride in their final match, the dead rubber against Jaunarena and Cecilio in Eibar on Sunday.

Urrutikoetxea is out

Urrutikoetxea is out

Aspe pelotaris sweep the board

The final week of the Pairs Quarter Finals sees Asegarce down and out as none of their four couples qualify

The seemingly endless, and endlessly fascinating, Pairs Championship quarter finals came to an end this week as the semi final berths were allocated to the top four partnerships out of the starting total of eight. Two of the matches which took place over the weekend were dead rubbers, meaning that all eyes were on the encounters in Eibar and Covaleda, where Olaizola II-Mendizabal II, Berasaluze VIII-Begino, and Gonzalez-Laskurain fought for the one remaining place in the last four. We take a look below at how things played out.

On Friday in Covaleda, the slim hopes of Berasaluze VIII and Begino were dashed as they were beaten 22-10 by Titin III and Pascual. In order to progress, the Asegarce pair needed a big win, and then would have had to wait on the result of Sunday’s game in Eibar. In reality though, their hope proved a pipe dream as the Aspe pair took them apart. The atmosphere was electric but the crowd must have felt somewhat let down by the level of the match. With qualification assured, Titin and Pascual came out of the dressing room in relaxed mood and with a license to take risks. Their opponents realised the gravity of their situation and did not rise to the occasion, looking tense and increasingly desperate. There was no way back from a 6-0 deficit, and the Aspe lead was never cut to fewer than four points. The form of Berasaluze and Begino has been a grave disappointment throughout the championship. Although they have they well at times, they have appeared a shadow of the pair who finished top of the quarter final table last year. In contrast, Titin and Pascual have played a blinder and may be the pair to lay down the gauntlet to Irujo and Beroiz in the last four.

In the other crucial match, in Eibar on Sunday, Gonzalez and Laskurain beat Olaizola II and Mendizabal II 22-21. This was an unbearably tense affair, with the final place in the last four going to the winner, and it came down to the very last point of a gripping evening. When an error by Mendizabal gifted the prize to Gonzalez and Laskurain, the huge crowd erupted in appreciation for a match which had lived up to all expectations, despite the errors induced by nerves from all parties. The game was characterised by a near death defying comeback by Aimar and Oier, who at one point found themselves 5-15 adrift. Aimar has anointed himself the comeback kid over the past few weeks but this time it was too little too late for the 2008 winners and 2009 runners up. Their record in this championship of late has been an impressive one but this year they have failed to play as a unit. Aimar, always a formidable opponent, has been among the three best pelotaris in the competition but Oier has been erratic and has ranked as the worst of the players who have seen all the quarter final matches through. While there was heartbreak for them, Gonzalez and Laskurain leapt in jubilation. Both are protagonists who could fairly be described as ‘intense’ on the fronton, which made their public outburst of delight seem all the more joyous. Laskurain in particular, has had a splendid tournament thus far and will provide the solid rock in defence needed by his partner as the competition hots up.

In the first of the dead rubbers, table toppers Irujo and Beroiz beat Bengoetxea VI and Otxandorena 22-13 in Pamplona. This was something of a formality for the all conquering pair, who were in a different class to their beleaguered rivals. It is one of the major disappointments of this year’s championship that Oinatz Bengoetxea has failed to light up the stage as he can. The former Manomanista Champion is usually a terrier of the fronton, ferocious in defence and pugnacious in attack, but in recent weeks he has been lacklustre and appeared inhibited by doubt. His supporters, as well as many neutrals, will hope he regains his magic in time for this year’s edition of the Manomanista. He has surely been upset by the loss to injury of Beloki early in the tournament, for Otxandorena has failed to fill the experienced campaigner’s considerable void. Nothing has bothered Irujo and Beroiz however. Juan has marched on in his own inimitable way, the best player of the quarter finals, and Beroiz has defied his age and greenness in the first major tournament of his short career. They are clearly the pair to beat.

Meanwhile in Tolosa, Saralegi and Apraiz managed a 22-17 win over Xala and Arruti. The eventual winners were playing for pride only and they can hold their heads up high as they bid farewell to the competition. They were never meant to be in the fray in the first place, as they form the couple which began as Olaizola I-Patxi Ruiz, who both fell to injury, the latter in somewhat acrimonious circumstances. Their opponents had their semi final berth in the bag, and Asier Arruti replaced the solid but injured Aitor Zubieta for this coda to their quarter final campaign. Xala and Zubieta will head to the last four with confidence, having gelled as an extremely cohesive and efficient unit since the start of January.

Gonzalez and partner Laskurain made it through by the skin of their teeth

Gonzalez and partner Laskurain made it through by the skin of their teeth

The recriminations will continue throughout the coming weeks at Asegarce for despite having teams on paper every bit as strong as those from the rival empresa, their involvement in the championship is over. While Olaizola II played well, as did others at times, key components have failed. Mendizabal II is the most obvious weak link, as with greater form from him, his pair would have made the last four. Injuries have played their part, especially so in the case of Bengoetxea and Beloki’s well established partnership, but the Olaizola I-Patxi Ruiz pairing was not a happy one from the word go. Berasaluze and Begino lacked their usual consistency. All that remains now is for the Asegarce players and staff to sit back and watch their rivals play for the spoils, while hoping for a more positive Manomanista campaign.

For a ranking of the individual players in the Quarter Final stage, see here.

The semi finals commence on Saturday in Pamplona, where Irujo-Beroiz take on Gonzalez-Laskurain. On Sunday, Titin-Pascual play Xala-Zubieta in Logrono. I will publish times and broadcast information later in the week.

Image from: Aspe

Titin and Pascual edge ever closer to the final four

Saturday 20th February, Pamplona


Pairs Championship

Titin and Pascual achieved their fifth victory of the championship on Saturday and while not yet certain of a place in the semi finals, they have one foot over the finishing line. Their triumph came at the expense of Bengoetxea VI and Otxandorena, who have had an unhappy tournament almost throughout, with just one win to show for their efforts. They are now out.

The Asegarce pair knew that this was last chance saloon and took to the court with the correct attitude. Otxandorena confirmed in a post match interview that they had felt positive and were raring to go, but stated that when their opponents imposed their rhythm mid way through the encounter there was little they could do. Bengoetxea and Otxandorena started well, opening up a 1-4 lead, but Titin and Pascual managed to level the contest at 5-5 before opening up to 9-5. They did not waltz to this margin uninhibited for their rivals fought them tooth and nail in some long and involved rallies, but they could not muster the necessary fire power when the cards were on the table. Having secured this lead, they held it with some comfort. Bengoetxea and Otxandorena did close to within one point at 13-14, with the former instrumental, but Titin again took up the reins and the danger was past.

Titin played at his spectacular best, once again defying his 41 years. 15 winners were his reward. Pascual was again solid as a rock, although he admitted to early nerves. Bengoetxea, whose underperformance in this tournament has been a great sadness, played some of the best pelota we have seen from him in some weeks but it was to no avail. His day will surely come again.

Scoring sequence: 1-0, 1-1, 1-4, 3-4, 3-5, 5-5, 9-5, 9-7, 10-7, 10-8, 12-8, 12-9, 14-9, 14-13, 16-13, 16-14, 18-14, 18-15, 22-15.

Source: Noticias de Navarra

Titin managed 15 winners

Titin managed 15 winners

Image from: Blog Kiroljokoa


Pairs Championsip Round-up: Week 4

I have already reported on Friday’s match (see below); here we take a look at the other three matches from week four of the championship.

Saturday 30th January, Pamplona 


Aimar Olaizola pulled off the performance of the week in Labrit to annihilate Sebastien Gonzalez and Aritz Laskurain. The forward from Goizueta treated a full house to an exhibition match of poise and power, unleashing a torrent of crosscourt winners from his brutal left arm. The Asegarce pair, champions two years ago and runners up last year, needed a win here to avoid a slide down the standings, and Olaizola left nothing to chance, seizing the initiative right from the start; the score was 11-2 within fifteen minutes of play. Gonzalez had no answer to his rampant opponent and played at a level well below his best. Laskurain could do little but try and contain his opponents, but with a resurgent Oier Mendizabal alongside him, he struggled even to do that. Mendizabal played badly last week but was a changed man here, showing strength, accuracy and tactical astuteness. The night though, belonged to Olaizola who left with eleven winners against his name to Gonzalez’ one. The statistics tell the story.

Scoring sequence: 7-0, 7-2, 11-3, 12-5, 14-7, 19-8, 20-9, 22-9

Sunday 31st January, Eibar


Juan Martinez de Irujo and Mikel Beroiz remain unbeaten in the championship after an intense encounter at Astelena. The Aspe duo, which mixes winning experience with supreme young talent, fell behind initially but after going ahead at 8-7 was never again headed. Oinatz Bengoetxea and Inaki Otxandorena stuck manfully to the task and scrapped until the bitter end, but could not close the gap, despite some sterling defence. Beroiz was the standout player of the encounter, showing a maturity which belies his twenty years. Irujo for his part played some excellent points, but like Bengoetxea, also committed errors.The losers are now in deep trouble with one point from four games, and will need determination and luck in abundance to reach the semi finals.

Scoring sequence: 0-1, 1-1, 1-3, 3-3, 4-4, 5-5, 5-7, 10-7, 10-8, 15-8, 15-11, 16-11, 16-14, 19-14, 19-15, 20-16, 21-18, 22-18.

Monday 1st February, Tolosa


Yves Salaberry and Aitor Zubieta kept alive their hopes of qualifying for the semi finals with their second win in four matches. Both couples understood the need for a result at this crucial point in the competition where the contenders begin to sort themselves from the also-rans, and the tension this created was evident in the game. Asier Olaizola played with vigour but also made costly errors, and was punished by Xala’s volleying. Alexis Apraiz, replacing the injured Patxi Ruiz, made an solid and promising debut in defence but his efforts were insufficient to bring the Asegarce pair their desired win. They must now fight for all their worth to escape elimination. (source: Asegarce)

Scoring sequence: 5-0, 5-2, 8-2, 8-7, 12-7, 12-12, 13-12, 13-13, 14-13, 14-14, 14-16, 16-16, 16-17, 17-17, 17-20, 18-20, 18-22.

For the full standings after the fourth week of matches, visit the Asegarce homepage and click on the box in the bottom right hand quarter.

Player of the week, Aimar Olaizola

Player of the week, Aimar Olaizola

Image from: Astore

Pairs Championship wins for Titin III-Pascual and Gonzalez-Laskurain

Sunday 24th January, Logrono


This was a comprehensive thrashing by Titin and Pascual, who were superior to their rivals in every department. The fronton in the Riojan capital of Logrono bears a large portrait of Titin, watching down over the players like a patron. When the man himself is on court, his brooding double presence must prey on the minds of his opponents, especially when one factors in the particularly partisan crowd. Perhaps it was the Titin factor which got so badly to Bengoetxea and Otxandorena on Sunday, save for the period at the very beginning, they were never in the game. Naturally, Titin and Pascual focussed much of their attention on Otxandorena, standing in for the experienced but injured Ruben Beloki. In truth, the substitute did not play a wholly bad match despite several costly errors, and at least early on appeared unfazed by the pressure. However, he was up against a metronome of a hitter in Pascual who outplayed him with total aplomb and with no error until the game was all but won. Up front, the story was similarly one sided with home boy Titin full of vim and vigour, and bristling with determination. Bengoetxea, himself usually so full of drive, appeared lacklustre and showed off his enormous talents only sporadically. His timing and precision were both lacking. The result seemed inevitable as the image of Titin looked down approvingly at his own triumph.

Scoring sequence: 0-2, 2-2, 3-2, 3-3, 7-3, 7-4, 8-4, 8-5, 10-5, 10-6, 11-6, 17-6, 17-7, 19-7, 19-10, 22-10.

Monday 25th January, Tolosa


The final score at Beotibar fails to tell the full story of a match which could have been a total sporting disaster for the Asegarce pair of Asier Olaizola and Patxi Ruiz. It appeared as if Cuatro y Medio champion Sebastien Gonzalez and his partner in crime Aritz Laskurain were poised to complete the biggest win of the tournament when they stood at 21-6. It is thanks to Olaizola that some face was saved as the trailing pair pulled back nine points, largely thanks to their forward who pulled off some glorious rearguard gantxos. However, it was too little too late for the man from Goizueta as Gonzalez and Laskurain were utterly dominant up until that point. Gonzalez took the first five points to wrest the initiative firmly away from his opponents and they never looked like coming back. The winning pair worked extremely well as a team with Laskurain especially dominant, allowing Patxi no quarter and reducing Olaizola to the role of defender. Gonzalez and Laskurain are warming nicely to the task in this tournament and showed with this their second win that they are a force to be reckoned with. Asier and Patxi will need to improve markedly if they are to be viewed as serious contenders. (source: Gara, via Aspe)

Scoring sequence: 0-5, 1-5, 2-7, 4-10, 5-14, 5-20, 6-21, 15-21, 15-22.

Adarraga fronton in Logrono

Adarraga fronton in Logrono

Image from: Wikimedia