BBK Masters: Irujo and Olaizola II reach the final by frontonnews
December 24, 2009, 10:12 am
Filed under: Pelota Mano | Tags: , , , ,

The year ending BBK Masters final, which takes place on Saturday should generate enough festive excitement to melt all the snow which had buried the Basque Country in recent weeks, for in the semi finals, played last weekend, the two great rivals Juan Martinez de Irujo and Aimar Olaizola triumphed to set up another meeting on another grand stage.

Semi Final 1, 19/12/09: OLAIZOLA II beat BENGOETXEA VI 22-18

Labrit was treated to a cracker last Saturday as the two Asegarce stars put on a scintillating show of shot making. There was litte to choose between the protagonists but despite being pushed every inch of the way.  The score was tied on 4, 5, 6 and 9, demonstrating the close nature of the duel. Bengoetxea inched past his rival at 7-9 and 9-12, deploying a stunning sotamano on several occasions, but in the final analysis, Aimar kept his nose in front both in terms of score and finesse. The multiple major winner looked in fine shape as he served well, played the tactical game with his customary skill and hit with force and imagination. There was genuine jubilation in his victory cry; as Masters triumph would crown the year nicely for Aimar, who has had a solid twelve months but has failed to win a major championship despite two final appearances out of three.

Semi final 2, 20/12/09: MARTINEZ DE IRUJO beat GONZALEZ 22-21

Lightening almost struck twice for Sebastien Gonzalez at Astelena on Sunday as he narrowly failed to beat Manomanista Champion Juan Martinez de Irujo for the second time in close succession. In contrast to the first semi final, this was a game strewn with errors as both players clearly showed the tension of the occasion. Irujo must surely have dreaded another defeat by Gonzalez and his desire for revenge manifested itself in some less than typically exalted play. The game was, however, no less exciting for the number of mistakes; it could have gone either way until the bitter end and the crowd warmed to the fight with notable enthusiasm. Gonzalez began the better of the two, racing to a 2-8 lead, which advanced to 9-12. From this point however, Irujo refound his game, winning ten straight points to take the score to 19-12. Gonzalez then took his turn to show his mettle, closing to 21-21 before Irujo eeked out the fatal punch.

The final takes place on Saturday 26th December at Atano III in San Sebastian at around 19:00 (CET), after the completion of two earlier doubles matches. There will be coverage at http://www.eitb.com/television/etb-sat from 18:00 (CET), also taking in the earlier doubles game between Gonzalez-Goni III and Saralegi-Beloki.

Irujo vs Olaizola

Image from: Diaro de Navarra



4 1/2: Irujo battles past Bengoetxea VI by frontonnews
November 3, 2009, 9:38 pm
Filed under: Pelota Mano | Tags: , , , , ,

Sunday 1st November, Astelena, Eibar

MARTINEZ DE IRUJO beat BENGOETXEA VI 22-19

On Sunday, Manomanista champion Juan Martinez de Irujo fought his way past a gallant Oinatz Bengoetxea to become the third pelotari to qualify for the semi finals of the Cuatro y Medio championship. The game was played at an astonishing high pace and neither player disappointed with some first class shot making and very few errors. In a tense and close encounter, it was the 27 year old ASPE foward who held doggedly on to a three point lead to keep the battler Bengoetxea at bay. Irujo has already won the first two major championships of the year and he must now, having overcome this examination, be counted as the favourite to add a third.

Image from: El Correo Digital



4 1/2: Second round victories for Bengoetxea VI and Retegi Bi by frontonnews
October 25, 2009, 11:25 pm
Filed under: Pelota Mano | Tags: , , , , ,

Yesterday, Saturday 24th October, saw two matches in the second round of the Cuatro y Medio Championship, resulting in a victory apiece for the two empresas. In Amorebieta, Julen Retegi got the better of Patxi Ruiz 22-15 in an error strewn encounter. Retegi made five errors but played well, especially in defence, and manipulated Ruiz with ease. Ruiz for his part committed ten errors and as a result was never in the game. This must come as a huge disappointment for the man from Estella, who was clearly delighted to have come through his first round match with no sign of his long standing back injury. Retegi will play defending champion Aimar Olaizola in the quarter finals next weekend.

Meanwhile, things were tight in Pamplona, where Oinatz Bengoetxea defeated Aritz Lasa 22-19. It was an intense, 70 minute encounter which could have gone either way, but the former Manomanista champion, who showed great strength in both attack and defence, held his nerve at the last. Bengoetxea will face Juan Martinez de Irujo next weekend for a place in the semi finals.

Bengoetxea VI is through

Bengoetxea VI is through

Image from: El Correo Digital, Sources: ASPE, Asegarce



Bengoetxea VI and Retegi Bi win the day by frontonnews
October 17, 2009, 10:22 pm
Filed under: Pelota Mano | Tags: , , , , ,

There were two first round matches in the Cuatro y Medio Championship today and both were won in decisive fashion. At Labrit in Pamplona, former Manomanista Champion Oinatz Bengoetxea thrashed current 2nd tier Manomanista king Mikel Beroiz 22-5. A solid Bengoetxea was never troubled by his young opponent who made 9 errors in the course of the encounter. Beroiz is a truly impressive young talent and will have his day, but it is the man from Leiza who proceeds to the second round, where he will meet Aritz Lasa.

Matters were almost as one-sided in Renteria where Julen Retegi beat Mikel Olaetxea 22-8. Retegi will now face the winner of Monday’s game at Beotibar between Patxi Ruiz and Alberto Ongay.

Julen Retegi Retegi Bi

Julen Retegi "Retegi Bi"



Matches this weekend by frontonnews
October 16, 2009, 12:45 pm
Filed under: Pelota Mano | Tags: , , , , ,

There are three further first round matches in the 4 1/2 Championship this weekend. Tomorrow, Saturday 17th October, Oinatz Bengoetxea and Mikel Beroiz enter the fray. On paper, this should be Bengoetxea’s to lose. The 25 year old from Leiza was Manomanista Champion in 2008 and is a ferocious fighter close to the frontis. Despite a summer disrupted by a finger injury, he is sure to come out all guns blazing at Labrit. Beroiz however does have a shot at the prize, ever since winning the 2nd tier Manomanista title earlier in the summer, the 20 year old talent has been in excellent form. He is a star in the making and Oinatz will have to be on his guard. Also in the spotlight tomorrow are Mikel Olaetxea and Retegi Bi who play in Renteria.

Sunday 18th October sees the turn of Yves Sallaberry (Xala) and Ekatiz Saralegi, whose match will be live on ETB-Sat. Xala has proven 4 1/2 pedigree having been the runner up in this championship in 2005, and is experiencing a more than solid run of form. he should have the measure of Saralegi here. The 30 year old from Amezketa has little track record in the upper echelons of the 4 1/2 version of the game and there are few indictions of how he will cope. He will however surely be determined to prove his mettle on this exalted stage.

Saturday 17th October, Labrit, Pamlona: c. 19:00 (CEST) BENGOETXEA VI – BEROIZ

Saturday 17th October, Renteria: 17:00 (CEST) RETEGI BI – OLAETXEA

Sunday 18th October, Atano III, San Sebastian: 18:05 (CEST) XALA – SARALEGI Live on http://www.eitb.com/television/etb-sat, preceeded at 17:00 (CEST) by a doubles game between Titin III – Cecilio and Berasaluze IX – Eulate

Mikel Beroiz

Mikel Beroiz



Torneo Villa de Zarautz Final: Aimar delivers a masterclass as Bengoetxea VI and Begino crumble by frontonnews
August 19, 2009, 7:49 pm
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Tuesday 18th August
Torneo Villa de Zarautz Final
OLAIZOLA II – MENDIZABAL II beat BENGOETXEA VI – BEGINO 22-10

Zarautz, which has the longest beach in Euskadi, is renowned more for surfing than pelota but for the past few days, the latter has ruled the town. Four pairs, two each from ASPE and Asegarce, arrived at the seaside for a tournament of great quality, featuring great pelotaris in flying form. Both of the partnerships who contested the final had won their first matches with ease and expectations were high last night for a gripping showdown. Much of the pre match talk was about a duel between Aritz Begino and Aimar Olaizola, both of whom have been scintillatingly good in recent weeks, but in the final analysis, it was the latter that shone, dismantling ruthlessly the game of the former in a show of breathtaking strength and tactical intelligence.

The match started as the fans would have wished; for sixteen points there was no clear favourite as both pairs traded blows. There were slight indications that Aimar’s form might not be holding as he hit low twice in the first three points, clearly disgusted with himself, but the forward battle turned into an enthralling one. Both Aimar and Oinatz took the ball with startling pace and went at each other with remarkable verve in a series of furious volleys. Such was the determination of each to break the other that when Aimar hit a txoko winner at 5-2, both were sprawled on the floor. As they traded winners, both clenched their fists and roared in delight. At this stage, the defenders also appeared much of a muchness. Both committed errors but also returned with aplomb from the back of the fronton. Oier was in part responsible for the ASPE comeback from 6-2 down to 8-6 up as he miscued on three occasions after the time out, which perhaps disrupted his rhythm.

Although Bengoetxea and Begino had all the momentum in the second quarter of the match, affairs were all tied at 8-8 and one sensed the game needed someone to grab it by the horns. It was Aimar, now sliding with ease into a higher gear, who stepped forward. In effect, two almost identical points turned the direction of the game on its head. Aimar is renowned for the brutal strength of his left arm and two successive crosscourt airez winners induced collective gasps from the large crowd; the man from Goizueta meant business. The Asegarce pair surged forward to a 9-8 lead and never gave their opponents a further look in. If the relentless march of Aimar and Oier was started by means of Aimar’s strength, it was maintained chiefly by the same player’s tactical skill. Olaizola has always been singled out as a superb reader of the game and he sensed Begino’s less than solid defence, which he set about exploiting by means of successive long balls and fast, spiralling serves. From 11-10, they won nine points in a row to take the title at a canter. The pressure on Begino, who made a string of errors, seemed to manifest itself in his partner too. Oinatz, in his usual fashion, fought to the death but was clearly rattled by his inability to make any inroads into the score line. While Aimar trapped him and swallowed him up at the front, Oier played the perfect foil, hitting freely and relentlessly. While the eventual victors formed an unbreakable team, the vanquished fell apart; as Aimar and Oier marched to 20-10, neither of their opponents ran for a ball which Aimar nonchalantly swiped into an empty court. Oinatz protested to Begino and the heavens but it was all in vain. Two more Begino errors and that was that.

Pundits and fans alike expected much of Aimar Olaizola here and he delivered on all fronts. The six time major championship winner has now won three titles since his defeat in the Manomanista Final and has beaten his conqueror there, Juan Martinez de Irujo, three times. He must surely wish the Cuatro y Medio Championship would come sooner for in this sort of form, defeat there would be an upset. Oier Mendizabal too is riding the crest of a wave, appearing as solidity personified. Bengoetxea and Begino will doubtless feel downhearted but they have acquitted themselves well. Bengoetxea appears to have cast off much of the ring rustiness of his finger injury and Begino must forget this final and remember his earlier achievements. There is little shame in defeat to a rampant Olaizola II and his brick wall of a partner in crime.

Scoring sequence: 0-1, 1-1, 1-2, 2-2, 3-2, 6-2, 6-3, 6-8, 7-8, 11-8, 11-9, 11-10, 12-10 and 22-10.

Oier and Aimar: dominant in Zarautz

Oier and Aimar: dominant in Zarautz



Torneo Villa de Zarautz Final, Tuesday 18th August by frontonnews
August 17, 2009, 9:13 am
Filed under: Pelota Mano | Tags: , , , ,

The final of the Torneo Villa de Zarautz will take place tomorrow evening and will be between Olaizola IIMendizabal II and Bengoetxea VIBegino. Olaizola and Mendizabal must surely be the favourites; Aimar is in hotter form than he has been all year. The man from Goizueta has beaten Irujo on each of their three meetings since the Manomanista Final and in the semi final here almost single handedly annihilated Gonzalez and Pascual in a 22-3 rout. With Oinatz Bengoetxea still not back to full match fitness after a month off with a finger injury, Aimar will be hard to tame. Bengoetxea and Begino did however win their semi final, against Titin III and Goni III, 22-14 at something of a canter. Oinatz outplayed a below par Titin while Begino had the best of the defensive play and they are a partnership capable of upsetting the odds.

The ETB-Sat television schedule is rather inconclusive when it comes to coverage. The match will take place at 18:00 (CEST) and while there is no pelota on at this time, there are two matches being shown at 22:55 (CEST) and 00:10 (CEST) respectively, the second one of which is likely to be a replay of the final. If this is the case, the first match will be the game between Arretxe II – Zearra and Aritz Lasa – Zubieta. To tune in, visit http://www.eitb.com/television/etb-sat

Aimar Olaizola has been on fire of late

Aimar Olaizola has been on fire of late