Tag Archives: Urrutikoetxea

Pelota on ETB, 10th-12th May

Friday 10th May, Tolosa


Followed by BEROIZ v ALBISU Manomanista

Sunday 12th May, Eibar


Followed by JAUNARENA v ZABALETA Manomanista

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

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

Manomanista wins for Gonzalez, Barriola, Olaetxea and Aritz Lasa

It seemed as if Sebastien Gonzalez’s bad year was about to continue when he found himself 5-17 down to Mikel Urrutikoetxea in Orduña on Friday night. The young Asegarce rising star had a golden opportunity here to beat a seasoned campaigner, having totally dominated the first half of the match. His serve gave him the advantage time and again as he went long, forcing Gonzalez onto the back foot before striking the killer blow, either immediately or by bombing him into submission. Urrutikoetxea looked calm and completely comfortable, Gonzalez flustered and down at the mouth. Even an incorrect call by the line judge failed to unsettle him, and any suggestion of Gonzalez coming back seemed ludicrous. However, the serve won back, the former Cuatro y Medio champion hit his stride in an extraordinary fashion, taking the next seventeen points in a row. He was able to do on serve what Urrutikoetxea had done to him and the younger man failed to find the courage to use the volley in order to change the flow of the traffic. Upon drawing level, Gonzalez simply kept going. Urrutikoetxea appealed in growing desperation to his botillero Pablo Berasaluze, but there was nothing he could do to galvanise his charge. There will be more chances to come in the career of Mikel Urrutikoetxea, but he will rue this missed chance. Gonzalez will now play David Merino on in the quarter finals on Saturday at Bizkaia.

Scoring sequence: 2-0, 2-10, 4-10, 4-15, 5-15, 5-17, 22-17.

Winners/errors: Gonzalez 13/3, Urrutikoetxea 9/1

Service winners/errors: Gonzalez 7/0, Urrutikoetxea 5/1

Match time: 49:49 with 9:57 of actual play

Balls hit: 206

Botilleros: Ramuntxo Muxika with Gonzalez and Pablo Berasaluze with Urrutikoetxea

Urrutikoetxea failed to turn his lead into victory

Urrutikoetxea failed to turn his lead into victory

Abel Barriola was the red hot favourite in Eibar on Sunday and while Aritz Begino put up a sturdy fight for a decent period, the Leitzarra took the spoils with ease. This match represented a second throw of the dice for Begino who had already been knocked out of the tournament by Iker Arretxe. He was reinserted when Mikel Beroiz was declared unfit to play and in the early exchanges it seemed as if he was determined to grab his lifeline with both hands. He took the lead from the start with two service winners in a row, and after shadowing Barriola closely, he nudged ahead again at 5-7. However, Barriola tied the game with a txoko and a serve and from there never looked back. Begino kept him firmly within reach for a time, and a wonderful defensive effort from deep followed by a cross court winner on 11-7 showed that he would not lie down without a fight. Unfortunately for him though, Barriola found another gear and pulled away. He was superior in every department in the second phase of the match, using his serve to great effect (despite two faltas) and controlling the front of the playing area so that Begino was forced back into desperate defence. A late flurry in the form of a ball over Barriola’s head and a service winner made the scoreline slightly more respectable but a falta put paid to any chance of a resurgence and Barriola took the tie with a txoko. He now takes on Martinez de Irujo in the same venue on Sunday.

Scoring sequence: 0-2, 3-2, 3-3, 4-3, 4-4, 5-4, 5-5, 5-7, 11-7, 11-9, 12-9, 12-10, 13-10, 13-11, 20-11, 20-13, 22-13.

Winners/errors: Barriola 13/6, Begino 7/9

Service winners/errors: Barriola 3/2, Begino 4/2

Match time: 49:16 with 10:21 of actual play

Balls hit: 186

In the weekend’s other first round matches, Mikel Olaetxea won a 22-21 nail biter against Jon Ander Albisu in Tolosa on Saturday, and Aritz Lasa came through easily against Iker Arretxe, taking their match in Legazpi 22-10. They will now play Retegi Bi and Olaizola I respectively.

In the Promocion Manomanista Ekurdia beat Gorka 22-9, Mendizabal III beat Merino I 22-6 and Zabaleta beat Olazabal 22-10. Jaunarena progressed automatically due to an injury to Larrinaga. The quarter finals, which all take place on Sunday, are Rico IV v Ezkurdia, Untoria v Mendizabal III, Ibai Zabala v Jaunarena and Lemuno v Zabaleta.

A win for Aitor Mendizabal

A win for Aitor Mendizabal

Images: mine

Shock in Bilbao as Xala and Laskurain make a final without big favourites

Friday 13th April, Bilbao


Friday 13th, unlucky for some, and certainly unlucky for Aimar Olaizola and Mikel Beroiz. Save for one narrow loss to Titin III and Merino II the previous week, Asegarce’s flagship pairing had blazed an unbeaten trail through the 2012 Pairs Championship, winning fifteen matches in a row. They had to win here to secure their place in the final, a place which had seemed a certainty for weeks on end. They had one foot over the line, and most of the second as they found themselves in a 16-7 lead here. However, an injury to the right hand of Beroiz, exacerbated at 10-5 when he left the field of play for treatment, proved their spectacular undoing. This state of affairs is to take nothing away from Xala and Laskurain, who knew exactly what they had to do to exploit the defensive hole left by their opponents and followed a ruthless plan to absolute perfection. They only just scraped into the semi finals at the expense of pre-tournament favourites Irujo and Barriola, and now find themselves in the final. As Beroiz missed to hand them their 22-18 win they could scarcely believe what had happened to them.

The first half of the match was all Aimar and Beroiz. Beroiz was not as solid as of late and clearly not on top form, but thanks to the continuing winning swagger of Aimar, his contribution seemed more than enough. Xala made two hapless errors in a row to hand the favourites a 3-8 advantage and it was very evident who was on top both in the mental stakes and in reality. Xala served his way back into some contention but Aimar was in no mood to mess around, playing Laskurain like a puppet on a string for a 10-5 lead clinched with a trademark gantxo. When Beroiz returned from his injury break, things were clearly not all well but Aimar, well aware of the situation, shouldered responsibility for keeping the ball away from his partner as much as he realistically could. He looked imperious in stretching their advantage to 13-5, using his serve as a platform for the domination of three points on the trot.

However, there was a limit to the amount of time that one player, however great, could take so much of the play on himself. Beroiz ceded the serve at 8-16 with a mishit and Xala and Laskurain seized the day. They repeatedly pummelled Beroiz, who had no hitting power and no answer. It was a simple but brutally effective tactic and worked to a tee. Aimar, presumably realising the need to grasp chances for winners when he had them in order to shorten each rally, missed a brace of winner chances and the pressure continued unabated. When Beroiz did not miscue or fall short, his returns were not deep enough and presented Xala with easy opportunities to put points away. The man from Lekuine also served with great accuracy; no trick was missed. As Aimar found in the Manomanista final last year summer, when Xala eyes the prize he rarely lets up and so it proved here. Injury to Beroiz or no, this was a staggering comeback. Beroiz ended with seven errors, though in reality many more points were lost as a direct result of his weakness. Aimar was on paper at least the better of the forwards but circumstance prevailed against him. Sport can be cruel.

Scoring sequence: 0-1, 1-1, 1-3, 3-3, 3-9, 5-9, 5-10, 5-13, 7-13, 7-16, 14-16, 14-17, 18-17, 18-18, 22-18.

Winners/errors: Xala 8/5, Olaizola 10/4, Laskurain 3/3, Beroiz 0/7.

On Sunday, the line-up for the Promocion Final was completed as OLAZABAL – LARRINAGA beat RICO IV – UNTORIA 22-17 in Pamplona. They will return to Labrit on Saturday 28th April to play JAUNARENA – CECILIO for the title. Jaunarena-Cecilio beat a spirited URRUTIKOETXEA – IBAI ZABALA 22-20 in the dead rubber in Eibar. The main Pairs Final takes place on Sunday 29th April at Bizkaia in Bilbao and I will be there to report from the scene!

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

Promocion Pairs Semi-Finals: first week goes to form

There were no shocks in the first week of the Promocion semi finals as the first and second pairs in qualifying both registered wins. In Beasain on Friday, OLAZABAL and LARRINAGA took a tight game 22-19 over URRUTIKOETXEA and IBAI ZABALA* (the latter standing in for Inaki Iza). JAUNARENA and CECILIO won in Logrono on Sunday, beating local pair RICO IV and UNTORIA 22-16. This victory was no walk in the park for the Navarre-Rioja duo but a win by six points means they have done enough to top the table going into week two. Last weekend’s two victorious pairs play each other in Ezcaray on Friday, while the losers take each other on in the Riojan town of San Vicente de la Sonsierra on Saturday.

Ibai Zabala and Urrutikoetxea (centre and right) fell just short

Ibai Zabala and Urrutikoetxea (centre and right) fell just short

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

Cuatro y Medio: Aritz Lasa Powers Past Urrutikoetxea

Friday 7th October, Antzuola


The task of opening the 2011 Cuatro y Medio Championship fell to Aritz Lasa and Mikel Urrutikoetxea, in a match which on paper at least looked evenly matched and very hard to call. A straw poll of observers before the game seemed to come down on the side of Urrutikoetxea, who had pulled off an impressive run in 2010, but in the end it was Aritz Lasa who stormed through. Lasa has blown hot and cold of late, but proved that when he is on song he can be very classy indeed.

The first four points set the tone for the match and Urrutikoetxea never recovered. Lasa signalled his intent with an opening salvo crowned by a searing gantxo winner. This was followed by a service winner, the first of seven, another gantxo and a well worked point in which he tapped the ball gently to the corner before passing Urrutikoetxea powerfully on his right. The younger player inspired confidence of a comeback in his fans with a winner down the wall, but it was not to be as Lasa marched onwards with further force. Urrutikoetxea managed only once to string a pair of points together, at 2-7 and 3-7. His second winner came from a volley close to the frontis and his third from an excellent cross court volley from a diving lunge, but for his remaining points he had to rely on rare moments of carelessness from Lasa. Those aside, Lasa was utterly dominant. 21 of his points came from outright winners, a staggering statistic even in Cuatro y Medio, where winner counts can be on the higher side. Not only were his winners numerous, they were varied, showing off the whole range of the pelotari’s armoury, from volleys, drops and hooks to steepling balls over his opponent’s head.

Urrutikoetxea looked utterly hapless, without a hope tactically and without any potent weapons. This was a surprise given his proven talent and promise, but he has many years ahead to fulfil his potential. Lasa, for his part, proceeds to the quarter finals where he will face Retegi Bi. It remains to be seen whether he can pull off back to back matches of such excellence, but he will have the home advantage; the encounter will take place in his own town of Urretxu.

Scoring sequence: 4-0, 4-1, 7-1, 7-3, 11-3, 11-4, 17-4, 17-5,  22-5.

Lasa barely broke a sweat

Lasa barely broke a sweat

Photo: mine