Tag Archives: Torneo Ciudad de San Sebastian

Pelota on ETB this week: San Sebastian & Aste Nagusia

The final of the Torneo Ciudad de San Sebastian takes place at Atano III tomorrow night. Pablo Berasaluze and Aitor Zubieta booked their place thanks to a 22-17 win over the Leitza pairing Oinatz Bengoetxea and Abel Barriola, and will play Martinez de Irujo and Albisu for the prize. Bilbao’s Aste Nagusia tournament starts on Saturday. The full schedule is here, and the televised matches are listed below.

Friday 17th August, San Sebastian


Followed by BERASALUZE VIII – ZUBIETA v MARTINEZ DE IRUJO – ALBISU Torneo Ciudad de San Sebastian Final

Sunday 19th August, Bilbao



Wednesday 22nd August, Bilbao



The Bilbao final is on Saturday 25th, but will be on NITRO rather than ETB. As I won’t be around to put a schedule up next week (I’ll be in the Basque Country!), the following Sunday’s matches are as follows:

Sunday 26th August, Villar de Torre



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

Bizkaia is the focus this week

Bizkaia is the focus this week

News briefs: San Sebastian and Bilbao

Berasaluze VIII and Zubieta will dispute the final of the Torneo Ciudad de San Sebastian after defeating Bengoetxea VI and Barriola 22-17 at Atano III on Saturday. Apart from a brief moment of parity at 17-17, they stayed ahead of their opponents throughout to win in 73 minutes after 607 strikes of the ball. They will play Martinez de Irujo and Albisu in the final, to be held in San Sebastian on Friday. This final will pit last year’s winners Irujo and Zubieta against each other, each paired this time around with a partner from Asegarce.

Bilbao’s Torneo Aste Nagusia begins this Saturday at Bizkaia, and is much expanded from last year, lasting eight days rather than four. The final will be held on the 25th. Six pairs will play for the crown, three from each empresa. Aspe will send Xala-Zubieta, Pairs Champions Titin III-Merino II and Martinez de Irujo-Barriola. Asegarce fields Olaizola II-Begino, Bengoetxea VI-Apraiz and Berasaluze VIII-Albisu. I am going to the Basque Country on Friday and hope to be at some of the games early next week. Photographs and reports will follow when I return!

San Sebastian Final: Defenders to the Fore in Victory for Irujo and Zubieta

Tuesday 23rd August, San Sebastian


The final of the Torneo Ciudad de San Sebastian was a strange match, exciting not for its quality but for its unpredictability and its closeness. Both forwards hit winners aplenty, many of them stunningly executed, but also made myriad mistakes. There was little to choose between them at the end of the match, and it was the defenders, while less noticeable, who held the key to the fortunes of the opposing sides. Both Irujo and Zubieta began shakily, but Irujo’s recovery came concurrently with the return of Zubieta’s poise. The man from Etxarri-Aranatz, playing without a knee brace for the first time since his operation, hit the heights as the match progressed, producing both the game plan and the execution to push his pair over the finish line. Laskurain, despite being marginally shaded here, was named man of the tournament, confirming the week as one in which the defenders truly shone.

The match started very evenly indeed, with each player showing both good and bad in turn. From 2-2 though, it was Xala and Laskurain who put their feet on the pedal, advancing to 10-5 which some calm, while Irujo increasingly lost the plot. His error on 2-3 resulted in him hurling the ball furiously at the frontis, sending officials ducking, and the mistakes kept coming, a low volley negating some excellent long returns from Zubieta, a failure to return an eminently reachable gantxo, a miscue down the wall and a wild cross court swipe leading to a five-point deficit. Zubieta also contributed to the rot by hitting high twice, and the red pair barely needed to extend themselves to maintain their margin.

However, the ride turned when Laskurain momentarily lost his touch and hit high. Irujo and Zubieta took four points in a row to close to 9-10, aided by two errors from Xala. Xala, clearly annoyed by his lapses, seized the initiative back with a devastating spell of three cross court winners. He then bombed Zubieta, who fell short with a long strike, and the five-point advantage was restored. But again Irujo and Zubieta came back, their latest recovery also kick started by an error from Laskurain. Irujo increasingly brought his trump cards to the table, aided by a partner in Zubieta who was starting to fire on all cylinders. His pressure led directly to errors from both his opponents, and he found ever more depth to force Laskurain onto the back foot. They drew level at 15-15 thanks to one such Laskurain failure, and when a txoko from Irujo put them ahead, Zubieta clapped vigorously, knowing the momentum was with them. Supported wonderfully from the back, Irujo produced a txoko and an inspired skimming dos paredes borne of pure reflex to give them a 15-19 advantage.

The next two points went to Xala and Laskurain, as Irujo proved with two errors that his conversion to form was not complete, the first throwing away a point in which Laskurain had been very much on the run. A service winner from Xala reduced the gap to one point at 19-18, but Zubieta unleashed a wonderful ball over his rival’s head, the icing on the cake of a mad scramble beneath the frontis from all parties. Xala was to have the final say in the match; he gave his pair some hope with a nonchalant cross court winner, on match point, but undid it with a wild and wide ball to give the match to the blues by a three point margin. A game shaped by errors ended most aptly.

Scoring sequence: 2-0, 2-2, 4-2, 4-3, 7-3, 7-4, 9-4, 9-5, 10-5, 10-9, 14-9, 14-11, 15-11, 15-19, 18-19, 18-21, 19-21, 19-22

Winners/errors: Irujo 7/8, Xala 7/6, Zubieta 2/3, Laskurain 0/5

Match time: 64:23

Balls hit: 515


The fully recovered Aitor Zubieta

The fully recovered Aitor Zubieta

Image from: Deia, by David de Haro

San Sebastian Semis: Xala-Laskurain to Play Irujo-Zubieta in Final

Friday 19th August, San Sebastian


The first San Sebastian semi-final ended with a far tighter score line than might have been expected. Xala and Laskurain proceeded to today’s final at the expense of Olaizola II and Begino, but what had looked like an easy win was momentarily put in jeopardy by a comeback which almost gave the reigning Pairs Champions licence to dream. The early part of the game was close, with the pairs tied at 1-1, 2-2, 4-4, 5-5 and 6-6. Both forwards looked as if they were shaping up for an epic duel. Four of Olaizola and Begino’s six points in this spell came from the former’s brutal airez, which he seemed able to sling into open space at will. Xala replied to his virtuosity with some wonderful tactical play, showing himself capable of wrong footing Olaizola, and countered his opponent’s venom with some most improbable defensive efforts. Begino made a brace of errors and Laskurain one, but generally speaking, both defenders seemed the perfect foils for their attacking forwards.

However, Xala and Laskurain broke the deadlock. They edged ahead when Begino was rendered completely baffled by a ball he imagined Aimar would take. Xala’s two txoko winners, separated by a missed attempt at the same shot, gave them a 9-7 lead, and they added eight points without reply, sweeping to 17-7 and the brink of triumph. Xala was the main instigator of this run of points, drawing gasps from the crowd with the pace and precision of many of his winners, whether cross court or into the corner. However, the real difference here arguably lay with the defenders; as Laskurain grew in stature, continuing his scintillating form from Zarautz, Begino looked increasingly lacklustre and gave Aimar, who only committed his first error with the score at 7-16, little room for manoeuvre. With an attack dulled, and Xala seemingly able to retrieve anything, the game looked to be up.

The momentum of the pelota match can change dramatically with the serve, and the blue pair won it back with a cross court winner from Aimar which, for once, left Xala reeling. He took the next two points in addition, hitting to the corner with total command. It seemed as if the sun had finally begun to shine on the trailing pair when Begino finally found some magic and struck the rebote, much to Laskurain’s visible chagrin. 11-17 seemed a little healthier; another few points and the opening was there. However, the advantage was lost once again when Aimar rushed into a txoko and hit it low. His fury with himself was plain to see. Begino let the deficit out further with an inexplicable miscue, but they came back to within five with a deceptively easy swipe into a clear court from Aimar, another rebote from Begino and a rare error from Laskurain. A ball from Xala into Aiimar’s body and a slip from Begino gave the reds match point at 21-14, but still the blues fought, two Aimar winners and two Laskurain errors bringing the score to 21-18. However, the dream comeback was ended with a typically clinical airez from Xala.

Xala and Laskurain were the better pairing for the majority of the match, and made hay while Begino suffered a lengthy lapse. Xala barely put a foot wrong, hitting 12 winners to 2 errors. Aimar managed 10 winners to 2 errors, signalling a solid evening from the multi txapela winner, but one in which he failed to break through Xala’s excellent defences for sufficiently long periods. Laskurain, until the very end, played a solid and astute game, acting as a near perfect foil for Xala’s venom.

Scoring sequence: 0-1, 1-1, 1-2, 2-2, 2-4, 3-4, 5-4, 5-5, 6-5, 6-6, 8-6, 8-7, 17-7, 17-11, 19-11, 19-14, 21-14, 21-18, 22-18.

Winners/errors: Xala 12/2, Olaizola 10/2, Laskurain 3/4, Begino 2/5

Match time: 1:04.16, with 24:04 playing time

Balls hit: 488


The Manomanista Champion, Xala, is in excellent shape

The Manomanista Champion, Xala, is in excellent shape

Saturday 20th August, San Sebastian


Irujo and Zubieta will join Xala and Laskurain in the final tonight, having beaten Bengoetxea and Beroiz by the narrowest possible margin on Saturday. The Asegarce pair was ahead for almost the entire tense encounter, though their lead never grew to more than four points. They were tracked closely by Irujo and Zubieta, who showed their nerve at the death, coming from 18-20 and saving a match point to draw level, before seizing the decider for a 22-21 win after 82 minutes and 609 strikes of the ball. The match was partially overshadowed by the consequences of moisture on the fronton, which made a noticeable difference to the stability and confidence of the players from 18-16 onwards. Atano II has suffered and overcome this problem in the past, and investigations will surely commence. Happily though, all four players emerged unscathed.

Scoring sequence: 2-1/ 5-1/ 5-2/ 5/ 7-5/ 7-6/ 8-6/ 8/ 9/ 10-9/ 13-9/ 13-10/ 14-11/ 15/ 17-15/ 17-16/ 18-16/ 18/ 20-18/ 20/ 20-21/ 21/ 21-22

Winners/errors: Bengoetxea 8/6, Irujo 8/4, Beroiz 0/6, Zubieta 1/5

Irujo will face Xala in the final

Irujo will face Xala in the final

 Images from soloespolitica.com, Deia

Pelota on ETB Sat, 19th-21st August: Torneo Ciudad de San Sebastian

Tonight the summer festival circus moves on to Atano III for the Torneo Ciudad de San Sebastian. Four pairs are involved, and the winners of each semi final will progress directly to the final, to be held on Tuesday 23rd. Tonight, the Manomanista finalists of last month face off, Xala with Laskurain and Olaizola II with Begino, with whom he won the Pairs Championship. Tomorrow, Bengoetxea VI and Beroiz play Martinez de Irujo and Zubieta.

Friday 19th August, San Sebastian


Followed by XALA – LASKURAIN v OLAIZOLA II – BEGINO San Sebastian Semi Final

Sunday 21st August, San Sebastian



To watch, go to https://www.eitb.eus/television/etb-sat/en-directo