Tag Archives: Tolosa

Hard fought Pairs wins for Bengoetxea-Beroiz and Xala-Barriola

Sunday 17th January, Bilbao

This match went to the form book in the end, allowing Bengoetxea and Beroiz to maintain their qualifying spot and consigning their opponents to a lowly seventh after some considerable improvement in recent weeks. However, it was rarely easy for the favourites.  In fact, it was Berasaluze who took the game on initially, powering ahead 6-1 with some scintillating winners. However, Bengoetxea grew in defence and managed to turn the tables, putting pressure on Albisu and mastering Berasaluze who was unable to maintain his earlier lightning pace. The game remained very close until the death, when the favourites broke the shackles and strung together a sequence of points to take the tie. They now sit level on points with Olaizola and Ibai Zabala, but their relatively poor points difference keeps them third, with one win in hand over Xala and Barriola in fourth.

Monday 18th January, Tolosa

The scoreline in Tolosa was exactly the same as that in Bilbao the day before, with Xala and Barriola taking an expected win over the bottom pair. Also in common with the Bilbao match was the closeness of the competition. On paper, the eventual winners should have won this with more comfort but although they repeatedly edged ahead on the scoreboard, they proved incapable of leaving Arretxe and Begino behind. Arretxe fought tooth and nail with the more illustrious Xala and matched him. It was only from 17-17 that the Aspe pair managed to make inroads, their experience at dealing with tight situations in championship games perhaps coming to the fore. Five straight points at the death and the game was theirs. They cling onto a qualifying spot narrowly, but with three pairs in all likelihood competing for the last place, there is much struggle ahead.

The table looks like this, with nine rounds down and five to go:

Pair Matches played Wins Losses Points for Points against Points difference
1 Martinez de Irujo-Zabaleta 9 8 1 197 143 54
2 Olaizola II-Ibai Zabala 9 6 3 188 141 47
3 Bengoetxea VI-Beroiz 9 6 3 182 181 1
4 Xala-Barriola 9 4 5 170 179 -9
5 Titin III-Merino II 9 4 5 158 188 -30
6 Ezkurdia-Zubieta 9 3 6 161 163 -2
7 Berasaluze VIII-Albisu 9 3 6 159 176 -17
8 Arretxe II-Begino 9 2 7 140 184 -44

In the Promocion Championship, Gorka-Cecilio maintained their unbeaten record, defeating Elezkano II-Larunbe 22-16 in Bilbao on Sunday. The most dramatic match of the week came the following day in Tolosa however, where Apezetxea-Larrinaga came back from 8-18 and 13-21 down against Olaetxea-Ladis Galarza to win 22-21. In the other games, Lemuno-Mendizabal II beat Olazabal-Arruti 22-16 and Rico IV-Untoria beat Mendizabal III-Merino I 22-12. The Promocion table now looks like this.

Pairs Championship: Arretxe and Begino net second win

Tuesday 12th February, Tolosa


This year as last, there has been little joy in the Pairs Championship for Iker Arretxe and Aritz Begino, but the level they found in their game on Tuesday was something far more exalted. There is no question that Berasaluze and Albisu, who had put together a run of wins after a shaky start, were the favourites going into this match but their play was nervous and error strewn. In contrast, their opponents barely put a foot wrong. The game was close in the early stages and stood at 9-10 before Arretxe and Begino pulled away to win at a canter. This result means the table is now packed tightly, with the partnerships disputing fifth, sixth and seventh level on points and only one point off the qualifying spots. Arretxe and Begino are still bottom, but moving up is now a possibility; they are a mere two points off fourth place.

Scoring sequence: 1-0, 3-4, 6-6, 6-10, 9-11, 9-18, 10-18, 10-22

In the Promocion Championship, Gorka-Cecilio went clear at the top, beating Apezetxea-Larrinaga who were also previously undefeated. The margin of victory was 22-16. Elsewhere, Mendizabal III-Merino I beat Aritz Lasa (replacing Olazabal)-Arruti 22-6, Rico IV-Untoria beat Lemuno-Mendizabal II (replacing Aretxabaleta) 22-17 and Olaetxea (replacing Tainta)-Ladis Galarza beat Urrutikoetxea (replacing Elezkano II)-Larunbe 22-17. Their table can be seen here.

Pairs Championship: Ezkurdia-Zubieta on the charge in Tolosa

Ezkurdia and Zubieta yesterday registered their second win in a row, defeating Xala and Barriola comprehensively in a carnival atmosphere at Beotibar. The main protagonist was Ezkurdia, who played with impressive power and confidence. Perhaps some allowances can be made for Xala, returning to the fronton after a hamstring injury, but there was little he could do to stop the rampant young forward who has turned the fortunes of this pair on their heads after coming in to replace Gonzalez two weeks ago. The verve he has brought to the front appears to have pushed Zubieta to new heights. The defender has not played badly all championship, even with Gonzalez in tow, but in the past two weeks he has ridden the crest of a wave. Barriola was unsettled by him and ultimately outplayed. Ezkurdia and Zubieta were in control for the majority of the encounter, save for a period early in the game when their opponents came from 1-5 down to 6-5 up. From there on however, they put their stamp on the game, advancing to 6-13, and from that point, their lead never fell below four. Whatever happens in the match today, at the same venue, between Berasaluze-Albisu and Arretxe-Begino, Ezkurdia and Zubieta will have made giant strides up the table. A win for Arretxe and Begino could see them fifth and on the fringes of qualification, with all the chances in the world. This would have been unthinkable a mere two weeks ago.

Scoring sequence: 1-0, 1-5, 6-5, 6-13, 7-13, 7-15, 11-15, 11-18, 12-18, 12-20, 14-20, 14-22
Service winners/errors: Xala 1/0, Ezkurdia 3/0
Winners/errors: Xala 7/5, Ezkurdia 9/3, Barriola 0/5, Zubieta 0/3
Match time: 67 minutes
Balls hit: 559

First win for Gonzalez-Zubieta as Arretxe-Begino stumble

Monday 7th January, Tolosa

Sebastian Gonzalez and Aitor Zubieta took their first win of the championship last night as Iker Arretxe and Aritz Begino reverted to their 2012 form. The least impressive partnership of last year’s championship had started this one more brightly, having troubled Xala and Barriola before beating Berasaluze and Albisu, but this was a heavy blow. Gonzalez played well, sending winners to all corners, and Zubieta was solid and accurate, but it was the mistakes of Begino which characterised the game. The defender had a jour sans and there was little Arretxe, also off form, could do to dig him out of his self-imposed hole. Gonzalez and Zubieta move up to 5th, while Arretxe and Begino are 7th.

Scoring sequence: 0-1/1/7-1/7-2/15-2/15-3/17-3/17-6/22-6
Winners/errors: Gonzalez 12/4, Arretxe 1/4, Zubieta 0/1, Begino 0/6
Balls hit: 378
Match time: 48 minutes

Aitor Zubieta: solid

Aitor Zubieta: solid

Three weeks into the championship, with all this week’s matches completed, the table looks like this:

Pair Played Won Lost Points for Points against Points diff
1 Bengoetxea VI-Beroiz 3 3 0 66 61 5
2 Martinez de Irujo-Zabaleta 3 2 1 65 52 13
3 Olaizola II-Ibai Zabala 3 2 1 63 51 12
4 Xala-Barriola 3 2 1 64 53 11
5 Gonzalez-Zubieta 3 1 2 59 50 0
6 Titin III-Merino II 3 1 2 55 64 -9
7 Arretxe II-Begino 3 1 2 42 64 -22
8 Berasaluze VIII-Albisu 3 0 3 56 66 -10

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

Jaunarena by a hair’s breadth

Monday 28th May, Tolosa


Promocion Manomanista Semi Final

Jon Jaunarena last night became the first player to qualify for the Promocion Manomanista final, defeating Jose Javier Zabaleta 22-21 in a nail biter at Beotibar. Jaunarena, who has already tasted major success in 2012 in winning the Promocion Pairs with Cecilio, trailed for much of the game, having to come back from 4-11 down. Zabaleta, despite being a defender in the Pairs form of the game, serves with great vigour and often dominated as a result of this but Jaunarena refused to cave. After drawing level at 15-15 he proceeded to 20-15 and looked to have the game in the bag, but Zabaleta came back with great tenacity to 20-20, saving a match point at 21-20 before Jaunarena grabbed a last gasp win. Zabaleta will surely be disappointed to have come so close to his first final, but the young talent from Etxarren can take great heart that his form is coming on a pace after his return from a broken arm. He is a stunning prospect for the future. Jaunarena, only 20 in March, looks like the real deal, another star from the small town of Leitza which has already produced Bengoetxea VI and Barriola. He will play either Ezkurdia or Untoria for his second txapela of the year.

Scoring sequence:  0-1, 3-1, 3-9, 4-9, 4-11, 14-11, 14-13, 15-13, 15-15, 20-15, 20-20, 21-20, 21-21, 22-21.
Winners/errors: Jaunarena 11/6, Zabaleta 5/4
Service winners/errors: Jaunarena 7/2, Zabaleta 8/0
Match time: 64:21
Balls hit: 224
Botilleros: Antonion Jaunarena with his son Jon, and Fermín Escudero with Zabaleta

Tolosas fronton, Beotibar

Tolosa's fronton, Beotibar

Photo: mine

Manomanista wins for Gonzalez and Retegi Bi

Sebastien Gonzalez, who had to come from behind to beat Urrutikoetxea in the last round, took his win rather more comfortably this week, beating Pairs champion David Merino 22-14 in Bilbao. It was Merino’s first visit to Bizkaia since his remarkable triumph with Titin at the end of April and on this occasion it failed to prove such a happy hunting ground for the Riojan star. The first half of the match was extremely tight but from 12-10, Gonzalez forged ahead and had too many weapons for his opponent who defended manfully but could not keep him down. Merino came back in the latter part of the game but by then it was too late and it is Gonzalez who proceeds to the quarter finals, where he will face 2008 winner Oinatz Bengoetxea.

Meanwhile, at Beotibar in Tolosa, Retegi Bi made short work of Mikel Olaetxea. The Aspe forward took the match 22-8 and will now play Aimar Olaizola in the quarter finals. Olaetxea found himself in an almost perpetual defensive position and had no answer to the grip which Retegi asserted on the game, although to his credit he fought hard until the final ball.

Beotibar, scene of Julen Retegis triumph

Beotibar, scene of Julen Retegi's triumph

In the Promocion Championship, Ezkurdia beat Rico IV 22-6, Untoria beat Mendizabal III 22-16, Jaunarena beat Ibai Zabala 22-16 and Zabaleta beat Lemuno 22-10. In the semi finals, both of which take place on May 27th, Untoria plays Ezkurdia and Zabaleta plays Jaunarena.

Pairs Championship: Irujo the difference in tough Tolosa tussle

Friday 23rd December, Tolosa
Xala and Laskurain came into this match with a point to prove, having fallen apart against supposedly less fancied opposition in the first week. However, having to play against the tournament favourites when seeking a restoration of confidence is never ideal. Irujo and Barriola for their part may have felt the need to pull off a game which justified their favouritism after being tested more than they would have liked last week, meaning that they too were well and truly up for the fight. They were tested for the second week running, but their superior control and teamwork saw them through leaving their opponents, highly fancied to make the last four, nursing their wounds after two losses from two.
The favourites made the early running, going ahead 3-8 thanks mainly to the stroke play of Irujo. Barriola made two uncharacteristic early errors, but with their opponents slipping up in their attempt to hit the lines, they mattered little. However, when Barriola continued his lapse, matters became a little more urgent for the blue pair. Three further errors in a row from the great defender, two rather lax and the third an over-ambitious attempt at a cross court winner, brought the reds to within two points. Xala seized his chance and pulled his duo into the lead at 10-9, inducing Irujo to hurl the ball at the frontis with total disgust. Two winners, perhaps a knee-jerk reaction, from Irujo gave the lead back to the blues and the lead changed again as Xala mixed winners full of wow factor with an extremely careless missed txoko. At 12-12 there was nothing to choose between the sides but a mistake each from Irujo and Barriola gave Xala and Laskurain a two point lead for the first time. Again, though, Irujo used his disgust as a spur to action. On 13-14 he slipped trying to change direction, leaving the court open for Xala. When Laskurain handed the serve back to Irujo as he rushed into a covering attempt on behalf of Xala, Irujo changed gear.
Irujo and Xala had hitherto been evenly matched, but the man from Ibero now put on a demonstration not only of his shot making ability but of his skill in manipulating his rivals like inanimate puppets. This was never so apparent as in the point which gave him a 20-17 lead, in which he worked Xala until he was forced to run backwards, leaving Laskurain woefully unable to pick up the pieces at the front. Xala failed to help himself, alternating between clever and skilful play and inexplicable misses, and the final two points were all Irujo, the first taken after he had bombed Laskurain into submission and the second seized with an extremely easy txoko.
Although they were forced to scrap until the mid point, Irujo and Barriola will take a vast amount of confidence from this performance, for they proved themselves able to lift their game when it mattered. Xala and Laskurain, in contrast, will have done nothing to make themselves feel better. They are a classy pairing no doubt, and will grow into the competition, but in these early stages they do not appear as a couple brimming with inner harmony. Thankfully for them though, April is a whole world away.
Scoring sequence: 0-2, 1-2, 1-4, 3-4, 3-5, 3-8, 7-8, 7-9, 10-9, 10-10, 10-11, 11-11, 11-12, 12-12, 14-12, 14-13, 15-13, 15-18, 17-18, 17-22.
Winners/errors: Xala 8/4, Irujo 14/3, Laskurain 0/4, Barriola 0/6
Match time: 1:05.32 with 28:18 of actual play
Balls hit: 560
Still no joy for Xala
Still no joy for Xala

Photo: mine

Pairs Championship: Aritz Lasa and Zubieta on top as Xala rages

Monday 19th December, Tolosa
Extra interest in this match was added by the polemic which has surrounded Gonzalez’s non-selection in the past few days. Gonzalez yesterday apologised at an extremely earnest press conference for his tirade, in which he questioned the selection of Aritz Lasa and accused his bosses of using non-sporting criteria in a decision which smacked of favouritism. If Gonzalez hoped justification for his rage would come as a result of this match he must have been sorely disappointed, as Lasa had the measure of Xala, the Manomanista Champion and looked every inch at home in the exalted company of the elite pairs competition. The first half of the match was close with the couples tied at 1, 2, 4, 6, 7, 8 and 9, but from 10-11 the supposed underdogs played like anything but. Xala had extreme difficulty in moving the balls chosen by Lasa and Zubieta and grew more and more frustrated at his ability to break free. His fury flowed over at 10-14 when Lasa appeared marginally to block his path. When his protestations to the referee failed he threw his chair three rows back into the crowd in a fit of emotion all the more shocking for coming from a player who is usually so collected. Despite Xala’s meltdown however, the real difference between the pairs came in the back division, where 2010 champion Zubieta was solid as a rock and worked expertly with his partner to put Laskurain under pressure he proved unable to bear. It is early days in the competition, but Lasa and Zubieta have proved in no uncertain terms that they are a force to be reckoned with.
Scoring sequence: 0-1, 1-1, 1-2, 2-2, 4-2, 4-4, 4-6, 6-6, 7-6, 7-7, 8-7, 8-8, 9-8, 9-9, 9-11, 10-11, 10-14, 11-14, 11-20, 12-20, 12-22
Service winners/errors: Xala 2/2, Aritz Lasa 3/0
Winners/errors: Xala 5/2, Laskurain 1/6, Aritz Lasa 7/2, Zubieta 2/2
Match time: 60:10.30
Balls hit: 584


Lasa and Zubieta won at a canter

Lasa and Zubieta won at a canter


Photo: mine



Cuatro y Medio Promocion Final: Mendizabal III nets first professional txapela

Saturday 3rd December, Tolosa


Aitor Mendizabal has only been a professional pelotari since 17th July but on Saturday he took the first steps towards realising his staggering potential, beating Stephane Lemouneau to the Promocion Cuatro y Medio crown. The 22 year old from Antzuola played a consistently excellent tournament, beating Zabaleta and Rico IV comfortably on his way to the semi-finals, before comprehensive wins over Ongay and Albisu. His only significant challenge came from his eventual final opponent Lemuno, whom he squeezed past 22-21 in his second semi-final, halting a charging comeback at the very last minute. Given the closeness of their previous encounter, another tight match was expected here, but in the event Mendizabal was easily superior to his more experienced rival and showed little by way of nerves as he strode to victory.

With the exception of the first point, Mendizabal was ahead throughout, extending his advantage as far as 11-4 and 17-7. Lemuno, at whose behest the final was delayed from the previous weekend as a result of his hand injury, looked aimless and lacking in ideas. Many had Lemuno down as their favourite for the title, despite his sketchy performances in qualifying, and he was not without his chances to fulfil his billing. He threatened another comeback against his young opponent in closing to 11-17 and 15-19 but in the end his errors were his own undoing. Two late service fouls were the nails in his coffin and Mendizabal showed no sign of choking, deploying his customary verve and pace to pick up the first txapela of what promises to be a successful career.

Scoring sequence: 1-0, 1-5, 3-5, 3-6, 4-6, 4-11, 7-11, 7-17, 11-17, 11-18, 12-18, 12-19, 15-19, 15-22

Service winners: Lemuno 5, Mendizabal 1

Service errors: Lemuno 2, Mendizabal 0

Winners: Lemuno 7, Mendizabal 11

Errors: Lemuno 5, Mendizabal 3

4 ½ line faults: Lemuno 1, Mendizabal 0

Match time: 53 minutes

Botilleros: Salva Vergara with Lemuno y and José Mari Mendizábal with his son Mendizabal III

Aitor Mendizabal, an impressive prospect

Aitor Mendizabal, an impressive prospect

Picture: mine