Tag Archives: Saralegi

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

Cuatro y Medio success for Urrutikoetxea, Saralegi, Apezetxea and Gorka

In addition to the wins for Olaizola I and Arretxe II described in greater detail below, this weekend also saw Urrutikoetxea and Saralegi proceed to the second round of the Cuatro y Medio championships. Urrutikoetxea scored a comfortable win over Gonzalez in Tolosa, subjecting the 2009 winner to a 22-11 defeat. Urrutikoetxea played with great pace and virtuosity, displaying his full repertoire of hook and drops in often spectacular fashion. An increasingly disillusioned Gonzalez had no answers and ended with eleven errors. He now plays Oinatz Benogetxea in Balmaseda on Friday.

Statistics: 0-4 4-8 6-9 9-12 9-18 10-21 11-22, Urrutikoetxea 2 service winners/2 faltas, Gonzalez 0 service winners/0 faltas, 213 balls hit, 46 minutes played

Also in Tolosa, Saralegi got the better of Albisu, winning 22-12 to set up a meeting with Retegi Bi. Albisu is far from a specialist in the short court form of the game but made Saralegi work for every point in a game which was tougher than the scoreline suggested. However, once Saralegi opened up a gap over the younger player, his need for struggle abated.

Statistics: Saralegi 3 service winners/1 falta, Albisu 3 service winners/1 service falta, 195 balls hit, 46 minutes of play

In the Promocion Championship games played in Arbizu today, Apezetxea came from behind to beat Zabaleta 22-13 before Gorka scored a stunning 22-20 triumph over Ezkurdia.

Urrutikoetxea is through to round two in style

Urrutikoetxea is through to round two in style

Photo: mine

Promocion Championship Results: week nine

Friday 2nd March, Mutliva: SARALEGI* – ARETXABALETA beat MENDIZABAL III – PENAGARIKANO* to gain their third point of the competition. It is likely too little too late however for Aretxabaleta and his injured regular partner Lemuno.

Saturday 3rd March, Pamplona: OLAZABAL – LARRINAGA beat TAINTA – IBAI ZABALA* 22-12 and as a result, draw level with Jaunarena and Cecilio at the top of the table. They are second on points difference. Tainta and usual partner Argote remain down and out.

Sunday 4th March, Logrono: RICO IV – UNTORIA beat JAUNARENA – CECILIO 22-19 in an unlikely slip up for the top pair. They remain in first place, but will have to be on guard from the host of couples waiting in the wings.

The scheduled match in Amorebieta between URRUTIKOETXEA – IZA and  GORKA – ARRUTI, both very much in the running for a semi-final place, was postponed as both Urrutikoetxea and Iza are injured.








JAUNARENA – CECILIO 9 7 185 136 49
OLAZABAL – LARRINAGA 9 7 180 137 43
URRUTIKOETXEA – IZA 8 5 152 138 14
RICO IV – UNTORIA 9 5 171 174 -3
GORKA – ARRUTI 8 4 148 140 8
LEMUNO – ARETXABALETA 9 3 154 174 -20
MENDIZABAL III – L.GALARZA 9 3 142 180 -38
TAINTA – ARGOTE 9 1 134 187 -53

Wins for Xala-Laskurain, Berasaluze VIII-Albisu and Titin III-Merino II

Friday 20th January, Azpeitia


While Xala and Laskurain continue to improve week to week, matters for Arretxe and Begino get worse. Arretxe’s injury in the previous game meant a match forfeited and his replacement, Saralegi, proved unable to do anything to inspire Begino to the heights of which we know he is capabale. This was an annihilation, in which Xala hit with abandon on his way to eleven winners while the replacement forward appeared totally at a loss. Laskurain was far more potent than Begino and absolutely dominant at the back. It is hard to see where the bottom pair can go from here.

Saturday 21st January, Logrono


This was a surprisingly easy win for the home favourites at Adarraga. Titin and Merino’s advantage was comfortable throughout the game but for a small moment of worry at 13-11, with Merino the standout performer, putting immense pressure on Benogetxea who was never able to break free. Titin followed not far behind his apprentice in the quality stakes, making great use of the gantxo. Apraiz gave him far too much room to work with and he accepted every invitation.

Scoring sequence: 2-0, 2-1, 7-1, 7-2, 9-2, 9-5, 12-5, 12-8, 13-8, 13-11, 17-11, 17-13, 20-13, 20-14, 22-14

Monday 23rd January, Tolosa


This was an improvement on the previous week for Lasa and Zubieta, who led for a significant proportion of the match before being outdone at the death by the pair who are proving to be the best of the rest after the clear top two. Berasaluze proved the main instigator in the latter part of the game, where his determination and venom wrestled the initiative from the Aspe pair. Albisu, the young tournament debutante, appeared as comfortable as a veteran, supporting his more experienced partner with a calm grace.

Promocion Championship results were as follows: Olazabal-Larrinaga beat Rico IV-Mendizabal II* 22-18, Gorka-Arruti beat Olaetxea*-Aretxabaleta 22-21, Jaunarena-Merino beat Urrutikoetxea-Otxandorena* 22-10, Tainta-Argote beat Mendizabal III-Ladis Galarza 22-11.


A good week for Pablo Berasaluze

A good week for Pablo Berasaluze

Image: mine

Cuatro y Medio: the past week’s winners and losers

For a full report on RETEGI BI v ARITZ LASA, see here. In brief, the other games proceeded as follows:

Manomanista champion XALA beat SARALEGI 22-12 in Eibar on Sunday, but only exerted his grip on the game in the second half. Saralegi, the unquestionable underdog, fought tooth and nail to lead 11-10 at the mid point and gave his fans plenty to cheer about, taking the match to Xala and often dominating points with his wide court play. The champion knew he needed to up his game, and that he did, goaded on by his botillero and friend Aitor Zubieta. In the second half of the match, Saralegi looked a shadow of his former self, unable to pick up any scraps left by a now rampant Xala, who took the sting out of his opponent’s play by volleying and forcing the pace. The loser looked increasingly dejected, but deserves much credit for the way he approached the match; Saralegi always throws himself into championship ties and this was no exception. Xala plays Titin III in the latter’s home fortress of Logrono on Sunday, with a semi final berth at stake.

On Saturday in Pamplona, BENGOETXEA VI beat OLAETXEA 22-10. Bengoetxea was the clear favourite here, but he knew he needed to bring his A-game to ensure safe passage against an up and coming player who has ridden a crest of form throughout 2011. An early scoreline of 1-4 cannot have done much for his supporters’ nerves, but Bengoetxea emerged clearly the superior player, using a powerful and well directed serve to gain the early initiative in points time and again, and outdoing Olaetxea in every aspect of the game. He will need all the form he displayed here when he plays defending champion Martinez de Irujo on Sunday in Eibar.

OLAIZOLA II beat BERASALUZE VIII 22-14 in Bilbao on Saturday. On paper this was an easy win for the four time champion, but the scoreline belies the tempestuous tale of the match. Matters were extremely tight for much of the tie, with players trading hooks with ferocious intensity in front of a crowd of over a thousand. At 14-15, Berasaluze retired to the dressing room with a muscle strain in his left leg, but worse was to follow for the man from Berriz, when a contested call in the next play left him fuming and in angry debate with the judges. Olaizola, the serve his, ran away with the game while his opponent continued to show his disgust at his predicament. Berasaluze was perhaps unfortunate, but Olaizola’s physical superiority in the remainder of the match was obvious, and it is he who goes on to face 2009 champion Gonzalez in Pamplona on Friday. 

There were two matches in the Promocion Championship this past weekend. On Saturday in Pamplona, neo-pro TAINTA beat ARGOTE 22-15, an excellent win for the 19 year old against an opponent vastly more experienced. Argote is ten years his senior, and has twice been runner up in this championship, in 2007 and 2009. In Eibar on Sunday, APEZETXEA thrashed GORKA 22-5, in a game which should by rights have been closer. Tainta now plays Ongay (Pamplona, Saturday), and Apezetxea takes on Albisu (Logrono, Sunday).

The match between Berasaluze VIII and Olaizola II was a heated affair

The match between Berasaluze VIII and Olaizola II was a heated affair

Image from Diario de Navarra

Cuatro y Medio round up: wins for Saralegi, Berasaluze VIII and Olaetxea, plus the winners and losers in the second tier

Sunday 9th October, Eibar


This was a first round result which surprised many, with Ekaitz Saralegi easily outplaying Mikel Idoate, the 22-year old who is tipped for great things. Idoate won his place in the 2011 main championship by winning last year’s Promocion competition in grand style, trouncing Merino II 22-7 in the final after an unbeaten campaign. Saralegi, not immune to creating upsets in major competitions, went out of last year’s championship in the first round, but has already gone one better in 2011 and will meet Xala in the quarter finals.

The game at Astelena was an uninspiring one. Idoate was never in the game from 2-3 onwards, going behind 2-8, 5-16 and 9-19 before succumbing without much real fight. Saralegi was dominant in all areas, creating space through tactical nouse and hitting winners with aplomb. He notched up fifteen winners in open play with an additional two on service. Idoate won seven of his points with winners, relying on the lapses of his opponent for the remaining four. Sadly for him, Saralegi was not well disposed to the granting of gifts, and it is the Gipuzkoan who marches on.

Scoring sequence: 3-0, 3-2, 8-2, 8-3, 8-4, 9-4, 9-5, 16-5, 16-6, 18-6, 18-8, 18-9, 19-9, 21-11, 22-11.

The other two main Championship matches to be held over the weekend also yielded easy winners. Both took place on Saturday in Pamplona, affording the Labrit fans a potentially intriguing double header which in the end fell rather short of drama. In the first game, PATXI RUIZ was outplayed by OLAETXEA, a pelotari very much in the ascendant, having won both the second tier Pairs and Manomanista so far this year. He won the second tier Cuatro y Medio in 2008, and showed his readiness for the major stage here, beating Ruiz 22-13. The second game of the evening saw BERASALUZE VIII put ARRETXE II to the sword by 22 points to 8. This was plain sailing for Berasaluze but he will face tougher times ahead; his next opponent is four-time Cuatro y Medio champion Aimar Olaizola.

In the second tier Promocion Championship, ARGOTE beat the spirited UNTORIA 22-16, ONGAY compounded CECILIO’s recent lack of form in a 22-8 drubbing, MENDIZABAL III withstood a comeback from ZABALETA to win 22-15, OLAZABAL, a recent returnee from injury, beat MERINO 22-8, TAINTA beat an off-colour IZA 22-9, and GORKA goes through after an injury to JAUNARENA forced the cancellation of their game.

For the full schedule of quarter final matches, see Asegarce.

Delight for Ekaitz Saralegi

Delight for Ekaitz Saralegi

Image from Deia

Pairs Championship: Irujo-Merino, Olaizola-Begino and Gonzalez-Laskurain qualify

Friday 11th March, Mutilva


Juan Martinez de Irujo and David Merino needed to win in Mutilva on Friday to have any hope of making the last four, and they scraped through against the substitutes, Iker Arretxe and Ibai Zabala, who squandered two match points. Arretxe threw all caution to the wind and well and truly took the game to Irujo, who was not on his best form, finishing with seven errors to his rival’s one. Irujo and Merino kept their noses in front for the first portion of the match, largely thanks to Merino’s mastery of Ibai Zabala, but they increasingly found themselves behind, and it seemed as if an upset was on the cards. However, they found their nerve when it mattered most and could breathe again; a loss by 13 points for Bengoetxea and Patxi Ruiz’ replacement Jon Ander Albisu would out them through.

Saturday 12th March, Pamplona


Aimar Olaizola and Aritz Begino had been on the cusp of the semi finals for four weeks, but the elusive seventh victory escaped them until Sunday. With their comprehensive defeat of Titin and Pascual they ended their run of indifferent form and ensured qualification in second place behind Xala and Barriola. Titin and Pascual began the better, opening up a 5-0 lead, but once the Asegarce pair hit their stride, there was no stopping them. They closed to 9-10 thanks largely to the play of Begino, who thrilled the crowd with two robotes and left an out of sorts Pascual reeling. He supported Olaizola excellently, and the Goizuetarra hit eleven winners in all, easily outclassing Titin for pace and guile.

Saturday 12th March, Gernika


Sebastien Gonzalez and Aritz Laskurain put their slow start in the championship behind them when they made certain of their place in the semi finals, defeating Ekaitz Saralegi (replacing Pablo Berasaluze) and Alexis Apraiz on Saturday. Until the mid point, the game was evenly balanced, and was notable for some superb attacking play from Saralegi. However, the wheels fell off for the Asegarce combination as their opponents raced unopposed to 18-11. Although they managed four more points, in fits and starts, there was no way back, and class told.

Gonzalez, along with partner Laskurain, is through

Gonzalez, along with partner Laskurain, is through

Image from: Noticias de Navarra

Pairs Championship: easy prey for Xala-Barriola, and Irujo-Merino II stay in contention

Saturday 19th February, Pamplona


The Navarre-Rioja partnership of Juan Martinez de Irujo and David Merino kept alive their hopes of a semi final slot with a fine victory over Oinatz Bengoetxea and Ibai Zabala, the latter a substitute for the injured Patxi Ruiz. The victors took advantage of the presence of Zabala, who tried gamely to fill Patxi’s shoes, but proved the weak link under a relentless aerial bombardment. Irujo and Merino took an early lead at 12-7, but Bengoetxea took the game to the former and pulled his pair level at 14-14, momentarily making up for the disparity between Merino and Zabala to his rear. However, he could not hold the fort indefinitely, and the pressure of the red pair’s perfectly executed tactic became too much to withstand; they added eight points to only one in reply to take the match without breaking sweat. They now lie 6th, level on points with Bengoetxea and Ruiz, who sit 4th.

Friday 18th February, Anglet


Ekaitz Saralegi, replacing the injured Asier Olaizola, and Ruben Beloki presented no problems whatsoever for pre-tournament favourites Yves Salaberry and Abel Barriola. There was little Saralegi could do in the face of the pressure of Xala, who asserted pressure without any stress, physical or otherwise. The hapless forward, who committed six errors, blamed his lack of time in the tournament for his rustiness, but whatever the reason, there was no mistaking his inferiority here. Beloki was notably ineffectual, and rarely moved the ball with any invention. There was no comparison between him and Barriola, who rarely needed to extend himself and barely put a foot wrong. As befitted their play, these two pairs stand as polar opposites in the table; Xala and Barriola are level on wins with Olaizola II and Begino but now go top by virtue of points difference. Saralegi and Beloki are tailed off at the bottom, with little hope of rescue.

Xala and Barriola go top

Xala and Barriola go top

Image from: poperoak.es Sources: Diario de Navarra, Diario Vasco

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

Cuatro y Medio Week 2 Round-Up

There were five matches in the Cuatro y Medio first round this weekend, and they served up some memorable pelota, notably from Iker Arretxe, who upset the odds, and a white hot Pablo Berasaluze.

Friday 22nd October, Sodupe: ARRETXE II beat XALA 22-14

Iker Arretxe pulled off the coup of the first round on Friday, condemning big name Yves Salaberry to an early exit in Sodupe. The 25 year old from Valcarlos in Navarre moved his more illustrious opponent around the court with ease, and nailed him wide with expert assurance. He managed 12 winners to 2 errors, while Xala’s 11 winners were tempered by 6 mistakes. It was a night to erase from the memory for the Manomanista runner up.

Saturday 23rd October, Pamplona: PATXI RUIZ beat OLAETXEA 22-20

In form Patxi Ruiz made the quarters in a tight encounter against Mikel Olaetxea, through hard graft and toil. He dominated the early exchanges but a mid-match wobble allowed Olaetxea a life line, which he took with both hands. However, Patxi showed the nerve and steel which have made him a winner this summer to come through unscathed, by a two point margin.

Saturday 23rd October, Gernika: BERASALUZE VIII beat OLAZABAL 22-3

Pablo Berasaluze was the most emphatic winner of the week, thrashing Mikel Olazabal with no recourse to mercy. The forward from Berriz was superior in all areas to his younger opponent, and sealed another win for Asegarce in a weekend when Barriola was Aspe’s only success story.

Sunday 24th October, Eibar: URRUTIKOETXEA beat ZUBIETA 22-12

First year pro Mikel Urrutikoetxea took the considerable scalp of Pairs Champion Aitor Zubieta in the first game of the Cuatro y Medio double header at Astelena. The 21 year old looked at ease against his more experienced opponent, hitting many apparently easy winners and finding excellent lines and angles. Zubieta was forced to work hard for everything he could get, and the young talent deserves his place in the quarter finals on merit.

Sunday 24th October, Eibar: BARRIOLA beat SARALEGI 22-13

Abel Barriola, the favourite for this match, was made to battle for half of the encounter by Ekaitz Saralegi. Barriola found himself down to the Asegarce forward at 11-13 but from that juncture hit the afterburners, flying to 22 and a place in the last eight against local rival Oinatz Bengoetxea, so devastating in his first round demolition of Beroiz last week. That will be a tie to savour.

The draw for the quarter finals is now complete and is as follows:

Friday 29th October, Balmaseda: DIAZ v URRUTIKOETXEA

Saturday 30th October, Pamplona: BARRIOLA v BENGOETXEA VI

Sunday 31st October, Urretxu: PATXI RUIZ v ARITZ LASA

Monday 1st November, Eibar: BERASALUZE VIII v ARRETXE II

Berasaluze made short work of Olazabal

Berasaluze made short work of Olazabal

Image from El Correo