Aimar gains his revenge on Irujo in mano a mano rout by frontonnews
August 10, 2009, 12:55 pm
Filed under: Pelota Mano | Tags: , , ,

Saturday 8th August
Ogueta, Vitoria-Gasteiz
OLAIZOLA II beat MARTINEZ DE IRUJO 22-9

In a repeat of the Manomanista final, Aimar Olaizola played Juan Martinez de Irujo in a mano a mano match at Ogueta on Saturday, as part of the Virgen Blanco festival. Although an inconsequential game in terms of championships or the history books, this encounter had been talked up in the Basque press as something of a grudge match, with Aimar determined to avenge his 22-12 defeat to his great rival and prove his doubters wrong. There was no webcast so I cannot bring you a proper match report, but it is clear that Aimar reminded everyone of his status as a great champion in fairly emphatic style, racing to a 7-0 on his way to a 22-9 win. It is the second consecutive win over Irujo for the forward from Goizueta, following on the heals of his triumph in the final of the Navarrese Cuatro y Medio Championship last month.

Scoring sequence: 0-7, 4-7, 4-13, 5-13, 5-14, 7-14, 7-17, 9-17 and 9-22.
Match time: 40 minutes and 28 seconds
Stirkes of the ball: 195

Winners on serve: Olaizola 7, Irujo 1
Faults on serve: Olaizola 0, Irujo 0
Winners in play: Olaizola 10, Irujo 5
Errors: Olaizola 3, Irujo 5

Statistics from Diario Vasco: http://www.diariovasco.com/20090809/deportes/pelota/donde-toman-200…

Rivals: this time, as here, Aimar was on top

Rivals: this time, as here, Aimar was on top

Advertisements


Virgen Blanco Final: Xala and Goni III weather the storm at Ogueta by frontonnews
August 9, 2009, 8:50 pm
Filed under: Pelota Mano | Tags: , , , , , ,

Sunday 9th August
Ogueta, Vitoria-Gasteiz
XALA – GOÑI III beat BERASALUZE VIII – MENDIZABAL II 22-17

Battles locked in attritional stalemate are wont to turn with sudden and brutal force. On 21st June 1813, Joseph Bonaparte found this to his cost as his French defences crumbled at the hands of Arthur Wellesley at the Battle of Vitoria, signalling a virtual British victory in the Peninsula War. Today another battle was fought in Vitoria, which though less deadly in a literal sense, followed a similar pattern. For an hour or more, four of the best pelotaris the Basque Country has to offer flew at each other hammer and tongs until one side cracked. For Bonaparte read Mendizabal and for Wellesley read Xala, who in an ironic twist, if our metaphor is to be played out, hails from the French side of the Pyrenees. In a match of searing quality, it was the forward from Lekuine who turned the tide.

Vitoria-Gasteiz, 1813

Vitoria-Gasteiz, 1813

Both partnerships had won their respective semi finals with consummate ease and happily for the enthusiastic but not overly large crowd at Ogueta, all four players carried their excellent form forward to the showpiece match. Matters began in whirlwind fashion with Pablo Berasaluze unleashing a txoko and two hooks to stamp his authority. Xala could only stand by and admire. However, if this early dominance by the pocket dynamo from Berriz appeared total, his rivals had other ideas as from 0-3 down, Xala produced two hooks and a devastating smash on his way to a 4-3 lead. And so the battle proceeded, neither side ceding a significant advantage for point after point. Berasaluze and Mendizabal perhaps held the marginal upper hand for the majority of the game, but only by a proverbial hair’s breadth. Berasaluze in particular displayed white hot form. The Asegarce forward is nothing if not a fighter and time and again he rescued points when all seemed lost. On several occasions, he dug out what should rightfully have been txoko winners from Xala and turned defeat into victory. Focussed and indefatigable, he threw himself in all directions, even finding the energy to encourage his partner mid point, all taut muscles and pumped fists. Particularly extraordinary was his return of Xala’s hook in the point which took his pair’s lead to 10-6 and his stinging airez following a brief but vicious forward battle at 13-11. Oier Mendizabal too played his part, managing some towering returns from Xala’s considerable serve and showing tremendous willingness and skill in coming forward to cover for Berasaluze when it was required.

The scores drifted upwards in the favour of the pair in red but Xala and Goni were always in comfortable touching distance with the gap never growing beyond four points as the tally moved from 4-4 to 16-15. In style, Xala and Berasaluze are chalk and cheese. Berasaluze appears to play on pure adrenaline and desire, but Xala’s more measured, almost brooding approach is no less effective. Despite a pair of faltas, he served clinically, inducing two consecutive errors from Mendizabal, which brought the score to 7-6. His tactical intelligence led to perfect placement in the three points which brought his pair to parity at 11-11, two txoko winners and a whipped crosscourt volley leaving an out of position Berasaluze with no chance. Goni, as he was in the semi final and as he has been almost all year, was extremely solid. He was also marginally less error prone than Mendizabal, and proved once again the perfect partner in a battle where no inch can be lost.

Despite this near stalemate, the feeling persisted that the Asegarce partnership would come through, such was the firepower of Berasaluze. However, as with military warfare, one seminal moment is often all it takes for well founded conviction to be blown out of the water, and so it was when Xala stepped forward to serve with the score at 17-17. He had hinted at his growing confidence with a devastating dosparedes winner in the previous point and he now produced two long dipping serves just as required. Mendizabal swung and struck but could not make good contact. Twice he tried and twice he failed. All of a sudden, the ASPE pair was ahead for the first time since the score stood at 4-3. Mendizabal’s double failure triggered meltdown for the duo in red; Berasaluze hit wide and Mendizabal mishit completely before Xala caught him napping with an innocuous looking txoko while he loitered far too far back. When Beraslauze hit low the game was up. As the curtain fell on this modern Battle of Vitoria, blue was the colour of victory.

Vitoria-Gasteiz, 2009

Vitoria-Gasteiz, 2009

Scoring sequence: 1-0, 3-0, 3-1, 3-4, 4-4, 7-4, 7-5, 7-6, 8-6, 10-6, 10-7, 10-8, 11-8, 11-11, 13-11, 13-12, 14-12, 14-13, 15-13, 15-14, 16-14, 16-15, 17-15, 17-16 and 17-22.



Virgen Blanco Semi Final: Pablito and Oier finalists at Ogueta by frontonnews

Friday 7th August
Ogueta, Vitoria-Gasteiz
BERASALUZE VIII – MENDIZABAL II beat TITIN III – PASCUAL 22-10

The second semi final of the Torneo Virgen Blanco was significantly better attended than the first, in which only about 500 of 2155 seats were filled. Friday, in contrast, brought a near full house of enthusiastic fans who appeared torn in terms of allegiance between the master Titin and ‘Pablito’ Berasaluze, the terrier from Berriz. In the final analysis, it was the fans of the latter who left satisfied; Berasaluze produced a trademark performance of tenacity and drive, belying once again his small stature. Titin looked a shadow of the man we know he can be and it was only when the victory was as good as in the bag for the Asegarce pair that he showed any kind of convincing fight. Berasaluze in contrast chanced his arm and succeeded, bringing off some stunning hooks and returning everything his opponents could throw at him. In defence, Inigo Pascual seemed oddly off colour and never truly found his range. Oier Mendizabal, conversely, was at his metronomic best, the perfect bedrock for the attacking instinct of his partner.

The Asegarce victory here means that the final will be an inter-empresa affair; Berasaluze and Mendizabal will play Xala and Goni III of ASPE for the Virgen Blanco crown on Sunday. Catch it on ETB-Sat at 17:55 (CEST).

Mendizabal II: eye on the ball

Mendizabal II: eye on the ball



Virgen Blanco Semi Final: Xala and Goni through after show of strength by frontonnews
August 8, 2009, 9:20 pm
Filed under: Pelota Mano | Tags: , , , , , ,

Wednesday 6th August
Ogueta, Vitoria-Gasteiz
XALA – GONI III beat BENGOETXEA VI – BEGINO 22-9

Ogueta was strangely under-populated for the first Virgen Blanco semi final on Wednesday. Whether this was due to the lack of star attraction on the fronton or to more attractive happenings elsewhere at Vitoria-Gasteiz’s fiesta is anybody’s guess, but these pelotaris deserved better. However, despite the absent sense of occasion, Xala and Goni III put on a display worthy of the largest possible stage.

For nine points, the match was a tight affair, characterised by some superior play by Aritz Begino, who initially had the better of his opposite number, Fernando Goni. However, with the score at 5-4 to the eventual losers, the game blew apart with eight unanswered points from Xala and Goni. Begino suffered an all too obvious errosion of confidence and went on to commit eight errors. In contrast, Goni was unflappable and as solid as the proverbial brick wall, maintaining the form he showed in partnering Martinez de Irujo to pairs championship glory earlier in the year. Xala took some time to hit his stride but when an astonishing hook from the ASPE forward took the score to parity at 5-5, the die was cast for the remainder of the match.

At the front of the court, Xala moved the ball at will, toying with both the walls and his forward opponent Oinatz Bengoetxea. The former Manomanista champion has been absent through injury for the past two months and sadly for him, it showed. He fared well in the flow of play but lacked any kind of closing power when it came to striking winners, something which came naturally to his opposite number. There was also an apparent lack of teamwork in the play of the Asegarce pair, who have not played together at all in recent months. On several occasions, Bengoetxea left balls for Begino which he should rightfully have taken himself, resulting in confusion and mishits. All in all then, this was a night to forget for Bengoetxea and Begino, but one which will provide Xala and Goni with a massive boost ahead of Sunday’s final.

Scoring sequence: 1-0, 1-1, 2-1, 2-2, 3-2, 3-3, 4-3, 4-5, 12-5, 12-6, 14-6, 14-7, 17-7, 17-8, 20-8, 20-9 and 22-9.

Xala on song in Vitoria-Gasteiz

Xala on song in Vitoria-Gasteiz