Olaizola I replaces Patxi Ruiz in BBK Masters by frontonnews
December 4, 2009, 1:24 pm
Filed under: Pelota Mano | Tags: , ,

The year-ending BBK Masters tournament starts in Tolosa on Monday, but Patxi Ruiz will not be present. The defender from Estella injured his hand on Sunday in a match in his home town. His place will be taken by Asier Olaizola who opens the competition with his match against Aritz Begino.

The luckless Patxi Ruiz

Image from: Diaro Vasco

4 1/2: Titin III victorious in high quarter final drama by frontonnews
November 1, 2009, 9:54 pm
Filed under: Pelota Mano | Tags: , , , ,

Friday 30th November, Balmaseda


In a game full of drama and emotion, Titin III used all his wiles to defeat Asier Olaizola, who snatched defeat from the jaws of victory in Balmaseda. That the stakes were raised as the Cuatro y Medio Championship hit its quarter final stage was plain for all to see; both players are known to let their feelings show on the fronton but rarely is one taken so far into the heart of a human drama in the sporting arena. The crowd, for their part, hung on every second of the spectacle and lapped it up with relish and fervour.

Titin looked the more assured in the opening stages, running out to a 9-3 lead. His first three points came from mistakes by Asier, who clearly had initial problems finding his range, but Titin then let fly with three aggressive winners and an unreturnable serve. A strange bounce of the ball on 8-3 only served to bamboozle his opponent further. However, in the first twist of this remarkable match, Asier changed from puppet to puppeteer to draw level, both through some stunning striking of the ball and through a dogged tenacity in the long rallies. When Titin missed the ball completely, cursing both it and himself, the game was all square at 9-9. The middle part of the match was a topsy turvy rollercoaster in which nobody could take control. There was some incredible play, as characterised by Asier’s dosparedes on 12-10 which appeared to travel at the speed of light and in the scrap of a rally close in to the wall on 10-9 where neither protagonist seemed prepared to give an inch. At 15-15 the tension was palpable.

Asier then, for the first time in the match, asserted himself with true intent and although the gap between the rivals never grew larger than four points, the Goizuetan and his fans could sniff the semi finals. Curly hair flying and eyes bulging in pure concentration, he appeared imperious; at 17-21 Titin’s die was surely cast. Remarkably though, the Riojan whirlwind now whipped up the pace; for him the game was never up and what ensued was a nightmare for Asier as he lost five points in a row to throw away his golden ticket to the semi finals. Although Asier made a tragic miscue from Titin’s serve on 18-21, this turnaround was due more to the skill of Titin than his own lack of it. A gantxo from Titin tied the scores at 21-21. He then called a time out to gather himself, and both players, as they sat and pondered what was to come, gained the appearance of prize fighters about to put their entire beings on the line for this one final effort. The last point was a cagey affair which could easily have gone either way but it was Asier who cracked, under enormous pressure from his vanquisher, and hit the ball fractionally low. An extra inch of height and the losing shot may well have been the winner.

The evergreen Titin III then marches on. Asier will surely wish to block all memory of this encounter from his mind, for he was so close yet so very far.

 Scoring sequence: 0-1, 1-1, 3-1, 3-2, 8-2, 8-3, 9-3, 9-4, 9-9, 11,9, 11-10, 12-10, 12-12, 12-15, 15-15, 15-18, 17-18, 17-21 and 22-21.

Titin III: never say die

Image from: Wikimedia

4 1/2: Asier the victor as Saralegi is left to rue missed chances by frontonnews
October 26, 2009, 6:10 pm
Filed under: Pelota Mano | Tags: , , , , ,

Sunday 25th October, Astelena, Eibar

Cuatro y Medio Second Round


For Ekaitz Saralegi, Sunday’s match against Asier Olaizola was a case of missed opportunity. Nobody seriously expected the man from Amezketa to be in this position, playing as he did Xala in his first round match, but he defeated the overwhelming favourite in that encounter, and he had his chances here too. In the end, Asier ran out the victor by 22 points to 17 but he was forced to survive a major scare along the way.

Saralegi began the match with promise, producing a serve which Asier could not return, to the delight of his extremely vocal fan club whose chanting became the soundtrack to the night. However, things then all went wrong as Asier took the next six points by virtue of three rather aimless Saralegi errors and three easy and nonchalant winners. Such was Saralegi’s demeanour that it was hard to imagine him winning another point, let alone the match. To his considerable credit, he did recover somewhat after a much needed time out; his botillero Aratz Mendizabal must have produced some wise words. However, he proved himself again and again unable to take any advantage of the chinks in Asier’s armour. Olaizola senior played a far from perfect game but Saralegi could not drive home the knife. The first instance of this came with the score at 6-2. Asier, perhaps resting on his laurels, had hit casually and low in the previous point but Saralegi threw away his foothold into the game with total miscue. Though the gap in points shrank gradually in the early period of the game, a similar important miss for Saralegi took place with the score on 11-7 following a sloppy attempt at a drop shot by Asier; Saralegi could have taken the point with a bit more care, but hit low when under little pressure.  

Despite his underwhelming play in the first half of the match, things swung with a vengeance when Asier failed to dig out a low ball on 17-7; it was the turn of the Goizuetarra to fall apart. Saralegi won nine points in a row in a staggering turn around. He served with brilliance and speed, touching 104kph and hitting his eighth service winner to come within one point of Asier at 17-16. He also forced his opponent into errors in open play and swiped two commanding winners in a whipped dosparedes and a crosscourt airez. Asier looked stunned and turned to the counsel of his younger brother, defending champion Aimar, in the hope of stopping the rot. Saralegi had a massive chance to pull level with Asier at 17-17 which would have represented a huge psychological knock, but he blew it with an ambitious overhead attempt. He knew, from his expression, that he had missed another opportunity, this time a golden one. Again he had a chance at 18-17 but hit just long. His momentum was lost and his spirit dissolved. He failed to win another point in the match as Asier, finally, romped home on the back of two further errors from Saralegi.

So, Asier Olaizola proceeds to the quarter finals, where he will meet the evergreen Titin III on Friday. He will hope for greater consistency there, and a reacquisition of the form he showed in the first round. Saralegi has acquitted himself well in this championship; his contract at Asegarce is up for renewal in February and his performance here will surely stand him in good stead. But for a handful of opportunities missed, he could have gone further.

Scoring sequence: 0-1, 1-1, 6-1, 6-2, 8-2, 8-3, 8-6, 11-6, 11-7, 17-7, 17-16, 18-16, 18-17 and 22-17.

Asier Olaizola: eye on the ball

Asier Olaizola: eye on the ball

Image from: Diario de Navarra

Mano results roundup: Ipar Kutxa Final and Cecilio’s debut by frontonnews
Ipar Kutxa Final

The Ipar Kutxa Tournament is a doubles competition involving some of the best pelotaris not entered, or no longer involved, in the Manomanista Championship. Each empresa entered two pairs as follows:

For Asegarce: Berasaluze VIII – Begino and Olaizola I – Mendizabal II
For Aspe: Gonzalez – Laskurain and Titin III – Pascual

In the first semi final, which took place in Villamediana de Iregua on 16th May, Asier Olaizola, a losing Manomanista quarter finalist, and Oier Mendizabal defeated Titin III and Pascual 22-15. The second was a tight affair which saw the victors escape the clutches of their opponents only in the dying points of the game. Those victors were Sebastian Gonzalez and Aritz Laskurain, who triumphed over Pablo Berasaluze and Aritz Begino by 22 points to 18 in Bermeo.

The final was held on Saturday 30th May at Beotibar in Tolosa and in a tough encounter, where the scores were tied at 15-15, the plaudits went to Gonzalez and Laskurain, who eventually ran out 22-16 winners over Olaizola I and Mendizabal II. In a match which lasted 73 gruelling minutes, fatigue set in for the losing pair as the skill of Gonzalez proved telling.

Cecilio delivers dream debut

Today (Sunday 31st May) saw the professional debut of the 21 year old Riojan Cecilio Valgañón in his home town of Ezcaray. The defender recently signed a two year contract with ASPE. Hailing from the Titin III Centre for High Performance, Cecilio is the under 22 World Champion and also won the Diario Vasco Tournament in 2008.

In his first match for his new empresa, he was paired with his fellow Riojan Titin III against Capellan and Goni III and he could not have got his career off to a better start. In a 22-7 victory, the debutant and his veteran partner crushed the life out of their considerable opponents. Titin was on sparking form, particularly ruthless in his aggressive hooks and beautifully delicate in his deft touches to the corner. Cecilio too showed impressive skill, especially from the back of the fronton from where he let rip with his powerful right arm. He displayed a young man’s lack of nerves as he entered into the tough new environment of professional mano, and on this showing he should thrive. He and Titin were aided by the errors of their adversaries; while Fernando Goni was for the most part his usual solid self, Capellan was a clear second best to Titin and appeared at sea. As the winning shot was struck, Cecilio’s sizable fan club erupted with a barrage of drumming and shouting, before the young man was hoisted aloft, the hero of the evening.

Cecilio Valgañón González
Date of birth: 28/09/1987
Place of birth: Ezcaray (La Rioja)
Weight: 92 kg
Height: 1.89m
Position: defender
Past results: Campeonato del Mundo, sub-22, 2008; Campeonato de España de Clubes, 2008; Campeonato Diario Vasco 2008; Campeón GRAVN sub-22 parejas, 2007

New pro Cecilio

New pro Cecilio

Image from: ASPE

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

Manomanista Championship: Beloki scrapes past Asier to set up semi final with Aimar by frontonnews
May 12, 2009, 10:47 pm
Filed under: Pelota Mano | Tags: , , , ,

Friday 8th May
Labrit, Pamplona

Ruben Beloki, who at 20 was the youngest ever winner of the Manomanista title, will return to the semi finals of the tournament for the first time since 2006. He achieved his passage at Labrit on Friday, beating one of last year’s semi finalists, Asier Olaizola by the smallest possible margin. This victory sets up a tie against Asier’s younger and more decorated brother Aimar, to take place on May 23rd, again in Pamplona.

This was a topsy turvy encounter filled with drama. Olaizola, whose participation had been in some doubt owing to a leg injury, started badly, to the extent that one feared he may face humiliation. He seemed unable to counter Beloki’s opening surge which took the man from Burlada to a 4-0 lead. It was however to prove a false alarm as Olaizola turned his game to take the lead 6-4 by means of a solid serve and a right arm more powerful than that of his opponent. There followed a period when the two protagonists seemed evenly matched, each taking advantage of the other’s mistakes to bring the score level at 10-10. Although Olaizola was again to pull ahead to a two point lead, the next passage of play belonged firmly to Beloki who used his serve to excellent effect and passed Olaizola crosscourt with ease. He won eight straight points to wrestle the initiative from the Goizuetan. Olaizola again closed on his opponent but an error on his part allowed Beloki to move to the brink of victory. It was then that a potentially match changing incident occurred in which sprained his right thumb in an attempt to hit a forehand volley. Clearly in pain, he lost the next two points and retired to the dressing room for treatment but his fears of a fracture were unfounded and he was able to continue, albeit somewhat handicapped. Olaizola took advantage of his rival’s plight with ruthlessness to draw the game at 21-21, but Beloki did not waver and when Olaizola failed to retrieve a ball at the front, he leapt to the heavens in pure joy.

Although Beloki should be fit to play his semi final in two weeks, the younger Olaizola will surely pose a greater challenge. Aimar has won two of the last four editions of this championship and will be eager to make up for last year’s surprise quarter final defeat at the hands of Bengoetxea. He was made to work in his 22-16 quarter final victory over Xabier Urberuaga but logic indicates his firepower will be too much for Beloki. However, in sport nothing is certain and if Beloki can show the same fight as he displayed against Olaizola senior, and if Aimar has an average day, who is to say that the final might not beckon?

Scoring sequence: 4-0, 4-6, 5-6, 5-7, 8-7, 8-10, 10-10, 10-12, 18-12, 18-16, 21-16 and 22-21

An injured thumb could not stop Ruben Beloki

An injured thumb could not stop Ruben Beloki


Manomanista Championship: Asier Olaizola fit to face Ruben Beloki on Saturday by frontonnews
May 5, 2009, 10:58 pm
Filed under: Pelota Mano | Tags: , ,

Asier Olaizola has completed his first training session since sustaining a tear in his left thigh without mishap. The pelotari from Goizueta, who is incidentally 34 today, played for 75 minutes with Pablo Urrizelki and felt no discomfort. Olaizola would doubtless have preferred to prepare for his Manomanista quarter final against Ruben Beloki on Saturday in the traditional way rather than through hours in the exercise pool and on the massage table, but he declared his intention to make the most of his chance. Olaizola reached the semi finals last year, where he was eliminated by eventual champion Oinatz Bengoetxea. If he were to reach the semi finals this time around, there is a theoretical chance that his rival could be none other than his younger brother Aimar, who is the hot favourite to win his Sunday quarter final against Xabier Urberuaga.

Source: Deia, via ASPE

Olaizola I: ready to roll

Olaizola I: ready to roll