Tuesday 16th August, Zarautz
MARTINEZ DE IRUJO – LASKURAIN beat OLAIZOLA II – ALBISU 22-8
The Zarautz final was defined more by errors than by winners. Duels between Irujo and Olaizola II are always much anticipated, but this edition of the long running saga ended in disappointment for the 800 pelotazales who packed Aritzbatalde, as 13 of Irujo and Laskurain’s 22 points came from the errors of their opponents. Albisu, so much improved in the semi final after his drubbing in Vitoria-Gasteiz the previous week, was the major culprit, giving away six points, and failing to return three Irujo service winners which looked eminently hittable. Olaizola, too, was strangely out of sorts, although with a slight tweak to his radar things may have been very different, as time and again, potential winners, especially to the wide court, fell just low.
Gallingly for the Asegarce pair, they actually started out rather well, going up 6-3, with Olaizola taking advantage of the solidity of Albisu to strike the ball brutally into space. However, a wide return from the young defender opened the floodgates, and Irujo, defending like a terrier, upped the pace by volleying whenever he could. Laskurain struggled at first to cope with the air that Olaizola produced, but as his opponents faltered, it was enough to play conservatively, waiting for the errors to come. He was awarded the prize for player of the tournament, largely thanks to his splendid performance in the semi finals.
Albisu is only 21, and must not despair; the flashes of immense talent he has shown in his first year as a professional give Asegarce enormous hope for the future, and a credible defending option to set alongside Begino and Beroiz in the years to come. This exposure to the big time, playing alongside one of the all-time greats, will serve him well, despite his nervous unease. Despite many of their points being handed to them on a platter, Irujo and Laskurain greatly deserved this win, playing with sense and accuracy, with an added portion of fire when required.
Scoring sequence: 0-3, 6-3, 6-7, 7-7, 7-12, 8-12, 8-22
Service winners/errors: Olaizola 0/0, Irujo 0/5
Winners/errors: Olaizola 2/7, Albisu 0/6, Irujo 4/3, Laskurain 0/3
Match time: 37:16
Balls hit: 280
Player of the tournament, Aritz Laskurain
Image from El Correo