Bengoetxea annihilates Gonzalez to make the final four
Friday 18th May, Hendaye
BENGOETXEA VI beat GONZALEZ 22-7
To say that Gonzalez had the support of a barrage of fans in his home region of Iparralde would be an overstatement; although the fronton in Hendaye was comfortably inhabited, the atmosphere was rather lacklustre for this Manomanista quarter final. Perhaps if the man from Azkaine had given them anything to shout about they may have obliged, but the evening was all Bengoetxea as Gonzalez fell to a staggering defeat, only escaping complete embarrassment with a flurry of points when it was far too late. His performances in beating Urrutikoetxea and Merino II to get to this stage hinted at a player whose confidence was returning after an indifferent few months, but he proved incapable of holding a candle to Bengoetxea, who granted him no mercy. The Leitzarra will play either Olaizola II or Retegi Bi in the semi finals.
Bengoetxea proved utterly unstoppable from the outset, to the extent that as he sat pretty on 13-0, one wondered whether Gonzalez would manage to score a point at all. Precious few of the points even went to extended rallies, with Benogetxea either winning with his serve or punishing Gonzalez for his inadequate returns within two of three shots. Often Gonzalez had only himself to blame, especially in the point on 0-12, which he should have won but which he threw away with a wide volley. His body language became more and more telling of a player in deep distress. There was a collective sigh of relief from the crowd when Benogetxea made his first error to hand Gonzalez a point but incredibly he threw away any chance at a revival by serving a falta. Bengoetxea picked up where he left off, proceeding to 18-1, the latter two points coming from disastrous attempts by Gonzalez to return his serve. Few would have bet against a scoreline of 22-1 at this point, but to his credit, Gonzalez managed to put together a run of four thanks to two errors from Bengoetxea and two strong serves, but the comeback was short lived as he failed to absorb a salvo of high balls. Bengoetxea moved to 21-5 but was halted again by a rare moment of inspiration from his ailing opponent who pulled two points back when he twice succeeded in getting him onto the back foot. However, the dramatic resurgence was not to be as a txoko sealed a win for Bengoetxea which was staggering in its ease.
Scoring sequence: 0-13, 1-13, 1-18, 5-18, 5-21, 7-21, 7-22.
Winners/errors: Gonzalez 4/10 (2 service winners), Bengoetxea 12/3 (5 service winners)
Match time: 36:19 with 6:37 of actual play
Balls hit: 155