Tag Archives: Zeanuri

4 1/2: Gonzalez shows his extra gear in Zeanuri

Saturday 23rd October, Zeanuri: GONZALEZ beat LEIZA 22-12

It fell to the small Bizkaian town of Zeanuri to host the first second round tie of the Cuatro y Medio championship and an enthusiastic but not overly large audience clearly relished the favour. The players in question were 32 year old Sebastian Gonzalez from ASPE and Asegarce’s 29 year old Inigo Leiza. On paper, Gonzalez was the favourite here but Leiza must have been brimming with confidence after an excellent win over Asier Berasaluze last weekend. Leiza, on body language alone, looked more alert to the task while Gonzalez appeared, as he often does, rather cool and lackadaisical, serving ten pasas in the course of the game. However, it was the latter who displayed the necessary extra gear when the going got tough.

For the first eight points it seemed as if we would witness the close battle for which all had been hoping. Leiza opened proceedings (after the first Gonzalez pasa that is) with a gantxo winner which seemed to signal some intent and the pair traded blows in turn. A fabulous tactical play from Leiza left Gonzalez totally out of position and led to stalemate at 4-4, at which point the same player called a time out which perversely seemed to disrupt his flow, for despite continuing service problems, Gonzalez surged ahead. The man from Lapurdi took the next seven points with such commanding ease that it looked like a light had been turned on somewhere inside him. He hit crosscourt winners in both directions, a txoko winner straight from a masterful second serve, and airez and two dosparedes in a demonstration of his full attacking armoury. Leiza’s second time out, which came at 4-9, was born of a need to avert meltdown. However, the delantero from Lemona somehow managed to haul himself out of the black hole and gradually clawed his way back to touching distance. Leiza, in contrast to his opponent, was in command of his serve and it was this which gave him much of his success. This was especially the case with the txoko winner which took him to 10-13, set up purely by a strong serve which left Gonzalez stranded far too far back. Gonzalez though, sensing the encroaching danger, once again moved up a level and cruised to 18-10, barely breaking a sweat. From this position of strength conceding two further points to Leiza was of no matter. Ironically, after his ten pasas, Gonzalez took the match with a masterful serve to the right which Leiza could not even reach.

This tie did not live up to the high expectations of some but Gonzalez was a clear and worthy victor, outshining Leiza in every aspect of the game bar the serve. He will now face the terrier like Pablo Berasaulze in the quarter finals on November 1, when he can expect a far tougher challenge.

Scoring sequence: 0-1, 1-1, 2-1, 2-2, 3-2, 4-2, 4-3, 4-4, 5-4, 11-4, 11-6, 12-6, 12-7, 13-7, 13-10, 14-10, 18-10, 18-11, 19-11, 19-12 and 22-12.

Sebastian Gonzalez: through to face Pablito

Sebastian Gonzalez: through to face Pablito

Image from larioja.com

Manomanista Championship: Berasaluze IX serves up a thrashing

Friday 3rd April

The television cameras at Zeanuri last night seemed far more interested in the fact that Pello Martinez de Eulate’s botillero was none other than Juan Martinez de Irujo, than in the fact that this was a championship match of huge importance to the protagonists. The big players do not enter the draw until the third round but for Asier Berasaluze and Eulate, both from ASPE, this was their chance to prove themselves and to keep alive their hopes of being there to face the likes of Irujo himself in two weeks time. Berasaluze is on something of a high, having recently won the second division pairs title with Xabier Urberuaga, and his surge of confidence was to serve him well.

The match began with Eulate strutting his stuff. Twice pairs champion, the man from Lizarra-Estella signalled his intent by rendering Berasaluze flat on his stomach as the latter struggled to recover from a masterly long serve. Two miscues from the native of Berriz took Eulate’s lead to 3-0 as Berasaluze yelled in self reproach. However, this was not to be the pattern of the remainder of the game. In the very next point Eulate committed the same error as his opponent had in the point before, mistiming a driving volley, and ceded the service. And service was to be to key. Berasluze’s first serve was a pasa, not the confidence boost for which he might have wished, but from there on there was no stopping his stinging right arm. The 25 year old served fast and hard. In taking the score to parity at 3-3, he unleashed a 122kmph monster against which Eulate had no hope. This was to be the fastest of the evening but he lost no potency, regularly hitting the 116kmph mark.

It took Berasaluze some time to impose himself, despite his gargantuan serve, as Eulate’s tactical nouse held him at bay. In this sense, the point which took the score to 8-6, reducing Berasaluze’s deficit to two points, must be seen as a turning point. Eulate repeatedly pushed his opponent back, controlling him like a puppet on a string as he ran back and forth for over 20 shots. But he would not succumb and broke Eulate’s control with a combination of a drop into the corner and a crosscourt flick which appeared to break his spirit. Berasaluze never looked back. His aforementioned serve took him to a 12-8 lead in quicktime. Eulate hung onto his coat tails and was only two points adrift at 13-11, but then the elastic snapped in catastrophic fashion. Four errors did not help matters for the afflicted pelotari but it was the pressure exerted by Berasaluze which told, as 13-11 became 22-11. In the dying points, Eulate appeared to have given up, and there was nothing Irujo, sitting stony faced in his chair, could do to raise him.

An so, a dejected Eulate leaves the championship while the ever smiling Berasaluze IX marches on. His next opponent is Inigo Leiza, who will no doubt be practising his return of serve.

Scoring sequence (Eulate first): 1-0, 3-0, 3-1, 3-3, 3-4, 3-5, 4-5, 5-5, 8-5, 8-6, 8-12, 9-12, 9-13, 11-13 and 11-22.

Asier Berasaluze

Asier Berasaluze