Manomanista Final: the defining dual of our era by frontonnews
June 4, 2009, 1:38 pm
Filed under: Pelota Mano | Tags: , ,

Atano III, San Sebastian, 18:00 (CET) OLAIZOLA II v MARTINEZ DE IRUJO

 Live on ETB-Sat:

 At 6pm on Sunday, the world of pelota mano will stand still. The Basque Country over, time and place will become an irrelevance as fans young and old turn their minds and hearts to a world within a world, a world bounded by green walls and baying crowds, banners and television cameras. On Sunday, the two men who have ruled and defined pelota mano in the 21st century compete for the holy grail of their sport, the Manomanista title, in San Sebastian. Both Aimar Olaizola and Juan Martinez de Irujo have been here before and know the sweet taste of success but each will lay their entire being on the line in the quest for txapela number three. It is the dream final; since the turn of the century, 28 major championships have been held, and between them, Aimar and Irujo have won 13 of them, this despite the presence of other towering figures of the modern game such as Titin III and perennial bridesmaid Barriola. Their qualification for the Manomanista final means that they have reached every major final this season, Aimar having beaten Irujo in the Cuatro y Medio final in December and Irujo (with Goni III) having got the better of Aimar (with Mendizabal II) in the pairs final in the spring. It is divine justice that they should meet again.

 The defining duel of our era continues on the greatest of all stages; if you watch only one match of pelota mano this year, let this be it.

Manomanista final: Aimar and Irujo choose their playing material and discuss their chances by frontonnews
June 4, 2009, 12:53 pm
Filed under: Pelota Mano | Tags: , ,

The two great pelotaris poised to clash in the Manomanista final on Sunday met at 12 noon today to select the balls they will use at Atano III. Aimar Olaizola selected balls weighing 106.4g and 105.3g, while Irujo went for heavier choices at 106.7g and 105.9g.

At a press conference which followed the selection, Olaizola declared his satisfaction with his balls and looked ahead to another meeting with his arch rival. He declared Irujo “hard to beat”, due to the pace of his play and his strength in the air. He highlighted lack of recent match practice as his major problem heading into his meeting with Irujo but seemed satisfied with his training and stated that the speed of the fronton at Atano III would suit him. Aimar is in the unusual position of having reached the final after playing only one match, this due to the injuries of his would be opponents, Barriola and Beloki. He professed that it felt ‘weird’ to reach the final in this way and stated that Irujo is the clear favourite owing to his greater competative experience of late. Aimar, due to the misfortune of cancelled games, has not played a competative match in over a month, and despite not having lost a game since the pairs final, the nature of his form is anybody’s guess. The Goizuetarra admitted his own doubts, declaring his fear at his possible lack of top end pace as a result of his enforced lay-off.

However, Irujo is in no mood to underestimate his opponent, who whatever his form, remains a great champion. He acknowledged the sense behind his favouritism with the bookmakers, having overcome three potential banana skins in Xala, Gonzalez and Bengoetxea VI, with barely a hair out of place. However, the man from Ibero does not place any store by odds, insisting that he will play the game as if his chances are 50-50. He recognised Aimar’s ability to rise to the big occasion, as well as his ruthlessness, given half an opportunity to impose himself. Irujo declared him “hard to beat” and a pelotari at the pinnacle of the game, who will come out and play “100 or 120%” to claim the top prize.

Sources: Asegarce, Diario de Noticias


Aimar and Irujo, ready to lock horns again

Aimar and Irujo, ready to lock horns again

2nd Division Manomanista Final: classy rookie Beroiz takes the title by frontonnews

Saturday 23rd May
Beotibar, Tolosa
BEROIZ beat ARGOTE 22-13

Mikel Beroiz has been a professional pelotari for all of nine months but yesterday the 19 year old from Navarre defeated Jokin Argote to lift the second division manomanista title in commanding style. Beroiz carried the slightly shorter odds going into the final but to beat a man five years his senior in his first major final, at this stage in his nascent career, is a significant achievement. The enthusiastic crowd at Beotibar was treated to an enthralling match in which both players displayed classic shot making prowess but it was the exciting youngster who brought the greater power to bear.

For the first half of the encounter, the pelotaris were deadlocked, reaching 6-6 and 8-8 after a sprightly start from Argote had netted him an early lead. Beroiz then advanced to 13-8 and had seemingly cut himself free, but once again the scores were levelled at 13-13. However, Beroiz now demonstrated his physical prowess, and after a total of eight service winners in a match lasting 55 minutes and 221 strikes of the ball, the young pretender was crowned. Argote began well and took the game to his opponent in the early stages but it was the strength of Beroiz, his violence in attack and his clever use of the walls which saw him through. Remember the name, for we will hear much more of Mikel Beroiz.

Source: El Correo

Victory for Mikel Beroiz

Victory for Mikel Beroiz

Other news

Earlier in the evening, the fans were treated to a high quality doubles match between Manomanista finalist Juan Martinez de Irujo and Asier Arruti, and Asier Olaizola and Oier Mendizabal. For Irujo this was a chance to maintain his barnstorming form of late as he prepares for his showdown with either Aimar Olaizola or Ruben Beloki on June 7th. However, things did not quite go to plan for him as Olaizola senior and Mendizabal took the win by a solitary point. Losing Manomanista semi finalist and defending champion Oinatz Bengoetxea also went down by one point; at the Mañaria Festival, he and Alexis Apraiz lost to Pablo Berasaluze and Oier Zearra by 22 points to 21. Meanwhile, in the headline match at the Arbizu Festival, Titin III and Zubieta beat Gonzalez and Lasa III 22-15.

Olaizola I took on Irujo and won

Olaizola I took on Irujo and won

Mano pairs: Irujo and Goni win the dead rubber and head to the final in style by frontonnews
March 16, 2009, 1:59 pm
Filed under: Pelota Mano | Tags: , , , , , , ,

Saturday 14th March
Labrit, Pamplona

Juan Martinez de Irujo and Fernando Goni have completed a clean sweep in the semi finals by defeating Pablo Berasaluze and Aritz Begino at Labrit. The victors had already claimed their place in the final on 29th March but served to bolster both their confidence and their status as probable favourites. For the losers, this was their chance to leave the competition with their heads held high; instead, the pair who have illuminated this competition on more than one occasion finish bottom of the last four.

In a game where both forwards played with spirit in attack and competitive determination, it appeared as if the Asegarce pair would fold in all too dramatic fashion, finding themselves down 3-9. However, in an exciting run of play, they turned the scorecard on its head to lead 11-9, making the game more competative than the Pamplona public can have hoped. It was not to last; step forward Irujo, who pulverised his opponents with a startling display of winners to which the ever lively Berasaluze had no answer.

In the end, the Asegarce competitors could do nothing but salute Irujo’s mastery but although disappointed, they must take encouragement from the form which saw them qualify in first place at the end of the quarter final rounds. Their contribution to this championship has been as a welcome gust of fresh air. Irujo and Goni will both play next weekend as they aim to fine tune their game to face the defending champions in San Sebastian in the ultimate showdown.

Dominant: Juan Martinez de Irujo

Dominant: Juan Martinez de Irujo

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