4 1/2: Gonzalez shows his extra gear in Zeanuri by frontonnews
October 24, 2009, 10:09 pm
Filed under: Pelota Mano | Tags: , , , ,

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: Patxi Ruiz too good for Inigo Leiza by frontonnews
April 18, 2009, 8:56 pm
Filed under: Pelota Mano | Tags: , , , ,

Friday 17th April
Amorebieta-Etxano
PATXI RUIZ beat LEIZA 22-13

The first of the third round matches saw the entry of the first former champion. Patxi Ruiz won the Manomanista Championship in 2003, beating an injury afflicted Aimar Olaizola in the final. In order to progress into the latter stages of this year’s competition, the Navarrese defender will have to overcome injury troubles of his own. This very week, he informed the world, through the medium of Radio Euskadi, that he is not sure how much longer his back, which was operated upon in the autumn, will allow him to continue in the sport. He even went as far as to say that he had only entered this championship for the sake of his empresa. What sort of Patxi Ruiz, we wondered, would be on show in Amorebieta on Friday night? In his path stood the 28 year old Bizkaian Inigo Leiza, whose only manomanista triumph came in the second division championship in 2005. Leiza appeared to be in good form, having defeated Berasaluze IX last week, a player who himself has seemed on fire of late. However, in a topsy turvy match, it was Patxi who would overcome.

The early exchanges were all about Patxi Ruiz, who appeared a changed man from the player who, along with Asier Olaizola, propped up the table in the recent Pairs Championship. There, the pelotari from Estella seemed constantly out of his depth and never found any rhythm or confidence. Although the first point in this encounter went to Leiza, Patxi stamped his authority in the course of the next six, his serve and volley working to perfection. His opponent on the other hand looked ill at ease, his three errors coming as a direct result of the pressure exerted by his rival. However, it was not to be one way traffic and Leiza did find his touch. The turning point came in the play which took the score to 2-6; Patxi Ruiz pulled off two excellent saves in defence but could not prevent Leiza from playing him like a puppet on a string. As he dived, Leiza sent the ball spiralling over his head. Leiza went on to take the next five points, aided by three misses on the part of Patxi and two volley winners of his own.

With the score tied at 7-7, the crowd, who were mostly rather subdued, sensed a fight and warmed to the occasion. However, the latent class of Patxi Ruiz began to tell and the former champion, solid rather than flashy, began to build a lead. As the score crept from 7-7 to 12-7, Patxi ground his opponent into the floor in the style of a master accumulator rather than going for the knockout punch, though there was no doubt as to who was the superior player. Patxi displayed strength in closing out points with a beautifully judged drop and a driven volley which confused Leiza to the extent that he did not even chase it, but his greatest strength was in forcing his rival to crack. This was nowhere more obvious than in the point which took the score to 9-7, in which he repeatedly pushed Leiza back, mercilessly testing his overhead volleying power until he could take it no more.

Leiza did find the power to retaliate but his comeback attempt fell short of achieving parity with his opponent and in reality, Patxi never looked like a loser. As he carried on in the same vein of consistency, Leiza looked like a man who knew he was in for a beating. The errors became more numerous and as he hit high, miscued, and sometimes missed altogether, Patxi bossed the closing points with abandon, tying his opponent to the frontis before daring him to fetch balls for which he had to hare backwards in hopeless desperation. Leiza managed to accumulate a handful of points, more through Patxi’s carelessness than his own skill.

So, it is the 2003 victor who progresses to the next round, where he will face the formidable obstacle of defending champion Oinatz Bengoetxea, who showed good form in the curtain raising doubles match which preceded this manomanista encounter. There was little sign in the course of the play of discomfort caused by Patxi’s back, but he did use the rest periods to stretch, indicating that the problem is very much a reality. Only time will tell how much of an onslaught he can withstand, for there will surely be tougher tests ahead.

Scoring sequence: 0-1, 1-1, 6-1, 6-7, 7-7, 12-7, 12-8, 12-11, 15-11, 15-12, 18-12, 18-13 and 22-13.

Patxi Ruiz victorious

Patxi Ruiz victorious

Image from: Asegarce



Mano matches on ETB-Sat tonight (Friday 13th March) by frontonnews
March 13, 2009, 1:27 pm
Filed under: Pelota Mano | Tags: , , , , , , ,

There are two mano matches from the Leiza Festival being shown live tonight on ETB-Sat (http://www.eitb.com/television/etb-sat/).  The first game is a singles encounter between two promising young players and the second a doubles match featuring recent pairs championship partners Sebastian Gonzalez and local hero Abel Barriola, this time on opposing sides.

22:25 (CET) APEZETXEA v ONGAY

23:35 (CET) GONZALEZ – BEROIZ v OLAZABAL – BARRIOLA

Jon Apezetxea

Jon Apezetxea

Image from: http://www.gaztezulo.com/bn_foto/61p60-1.jpg