The Latest Happenings at Miami Jai-Alai and Around the Jai-Alai World

(Updated 2/18)

Note to Miami Jai-Alai Fans:

The following was compiled by Garry McGrath, a fan of Miami Jai-Alai. While Garry has no direct association with Florida Gaming Corporation or any of its facilities, we thought this information which Garry compiled should be included in this web site. We hope you enjoy Garry's efforts.

Miami Jai-Alai Management

Miami's Arriaga and Pedrouzo Dominate NAJF First Round Qualifier at Fort Pierce

The Miami team of Arriaga and Pedrouzo absolutely dominated play in the first round of the NAJF Qualifier played at Fort Pierce Jai-alai this past Saturday night. It was probably the best display of doubles play I've seen since Michelena and Daniel swept 10 straight points in last year's Citrus Invitational. The duo played four games and scored 24 of a possible 28 points which included a win, two six point place and a five point place efforts. They were nearly untouchable as they lost only four points for the entire evening.

Arriaga's experience prevailed throughout as he changed up from his normal style of play. Normally, the talented front courter is agressive in taking the serve and throwing two wall costado for the easy winner. However, the extremely wide wood to the right of the court diminishes the effectiveness of this technique and he adjusted well throwing numerous cortadas to the inside for winners. He mishandled only one catch all night, and that was an extemely difficult chance over his head on the reverse.

Pedrouzo was flawless. The smoothest back courter in the game was a picture of graceful athleticism as he controlled his opponents with pin point accuracy to the back corner all night long. Each time he handled the pelota, he moved forward and his opponent moved back until Arriaga got involved for the kill. It was doubles jai-alai exactly how it should be played. Excepting Michelena and Daniel, I have never seen two players compliment each other so well.

Not surprisingly, the race for second place is close between four veteran teams. Dania's Beheretche - Cuvet and Alberdi - Felix find themselves in second and third place with 14 and 13 points respectively. Beheretche and Cuvet struggled in their first two games scoring only one point in each before finishing their evening in great fashion with a win and a six point place effort. Alberi and Felix did not win a game, but were pretty consistent throughout the evening. If there was one team that played better than their point total showed, this was the team.

Right behind the Dania teams are Tampa's Areition and Iruta with 11 points. Areitio played very well and was probably the most spectacular player of the evening. He had more than a couple of great grabs of outside caroms that he was able to put away for winners. Iruta was very steady in the back court. They had a very early one point lead on Arriaga-Pedrouzo when they surprised the crowd by winning the first game. Orlando's veteran team of Zugasa and Erkiaga racked up a win in Game 12 in their second round to get them seven of the nine points they would score, good enough for fifth place.

The two players who would probably tell you they did not play well were Miami's Elorrio and Tampa's Lejardi. Elorrio had some very uncharcteristic drops which took he and Echave out of most points. Echave played fairly well and looked very strong. Nevertheless, it is always a pleasure to watch Elorrio play because win or lose, he seems to always have something to say, find time for a smile, and really enjoy just playing the game. This is a very talented team, and I would not count them out yet. Lejardi simply was not moving very well. He is suffering from some bruised ribs and under normal circumstances, probably would have been scratched.

Here is a quick game by game synopsis:

Keep in mind there are 10 teams competing. There were five tournament games and each team played in four games. The same 10 teams will compete next week in Dania. From there, the eight teams with the most points will move on to Orlando on the 28th of February for the final qualifying round. Five of those teams will go on to the NAJF Tournament of Champions.

Game 9

Post    Team                    Fronton
1       Arteche-Elicegui        Orlando
2       Lejardi-Iriondo         Tampa
3       Alberdi-Felix           Dania
4       Zelenka-Tim             Fort Pierce
5       Arriaga-Pedrouzo        Miami
6       Zugaza-Erkiaga          Orlando
7       Areitio-Iruta           Tampa
8       Beheretche-Cuvet        Dania

Lejardi and Iriondo started the match off with the only three points they would score all night. Arriaga took Lejardi's serve for a soft inside dejada for the winner. In the first exciting exchange of the night Arriaga threw a two wall carom to the outside on which Aretio made a spectacular catch and return for the winner. Beheretche took Areitio's serve to the inside for a quick point.

Elicegui kept the next point alive with several superb catches along the inside wall until Arteche could throw cortada for the winner. In another long exchange, Alberdi and Felix outdueled the Orlando duo with Felix showing exceptional forehand power. The Dania team score again before being sent to the bench by a nice inside cortada from Zelenka. Arriaga and Pedrouzo won the next four points and were serving for game and were once again beaten by Tampa's Areitio and Iruta when Arriaga was unable to handle a very difficult overhead catch on the reverse. With consistent play from Iruta and a couple of nice kills by Areitio, the Tampa team ran out the game for the win.

Game 10

Post    Team                    Fronton
1       Zulueta-Dennis          Fort Pierce
2       Elorrio-Echave          Miami
3       Arteche-Elicegui        Orlando
4       Beheretche-Cuvet        Dania
5       Areitio-Iruta           Tampa
6       Zelenka-Tim             Fort Pierce
7       Arriaga-Pedrouzo        Miami
8       Lejardi-Iriondo         Tampa
Zulueta-Dennis won the first point when Elorrio was unable to handle a fairly difficult catch on the reverse along the wall. Elicegui threw a pica which the leaping Dennis was unable to grab. Areitio and Iruta grabbed the next two points and the rest of the game was no contest. Arriaga and Pedruozo in a maginficent display of positioning, catching and shot selection threw the perfect game. Surprisingly, most points were won with Arriaga's cortada which was strong, low and effective. He made several nice catches on opponents' cortada attempts to keep points alive and was backed by superb back court support from Pedrouzo.

Game 11

Post    Team                    Fronton
1       Arriaga-Pedrouzo        Miami
2       Beheretche-Cuvet        Dania
3       Zulueta-Dennis          Fort Pierce
4       Lejardi-Iriondo         Tampa
5       Artche-Elicegui         Orlando
6       Elorrio-Echave          Miami
7       Alberdi-Felix           Dania
8       Zugaza-Erkiaga          Orlando
The Miami machine continued its run with five straight points to open the match and looked unstoppable until Alberdi took an Arriaga carom on the outside with a good catch and threw inside for the winner. The Dania team took the next point and came up against mates Beheretche and Cuvet who simply overpowered the opposition run the game out their second time up. Beheretche is exceptionally strong with an outstanding forehand rebote which he threw with great power and accuaracy. Cuvet, like Pedrouzo, is very smooth and provided excellent support from the back court for Beheretche.

Game 12

Post    Team                    Fronton
1       Alberdi-Felix           Dania
2       Zugaza-Erkiaga          Orlando
3       Areitio-Iruta           Tampa
4       Elorrio-Echave          Miami
5       Zulueta-Dennis          Fort Pierce
6       Beheretche-Cuvet        Dania
7       Arteche-Elicegui        Orlando
8       Zelenka-Tim             Fort Pierce
Zugaza and Erkiaga started off the match with three straight points. Erkiaga seemed to be getting the range of the much larger Fort Pierce cancha and made several excellent catches keeping points alive to enable Zugaza to throw a couple of strong cortadas for winners. Zulueta and Dennis sat them down and quickly took a seat themselves when the red hot Dania tandem of Beheretche and Cuvet took over and scored the next five points. Serving for game, they were unable to get by Tampa's Areitio and Iruta when Areitio made one of several spectacular catches on the night to steal the point. Elorrio and Echave finally got on the board with their first points of the night but quickly sat down when Zugaza threw another tough inside shot for a winner. The Orlando team finished out the game with a quick point over Zulueta and Dennis.

Game 13

Post    Team                    Fronton
1       Areitio-Iruta           Tampa
2       Zelenka-Tim             Fort Pierce
3       Arriaga-Pedrouzo        Miami
4       Zugaza-Erkiaga          Orlando
5       Alberdi-Felix           Dania
6       Lejardi-Iriondo         Tampa
7       Zulueta-Dennis          Fort Pierce
8       Elorrio-Echave          Miami
Most people who were at Fort Pierce this night will remember the night for the final point of the evening and the outstanding effort on a couple of points by Tampa's Areitio. He and Iruta started off the match winning the first point and then faced Miami's Arriaga-Pedrouzo. After a long exchange Areitio threw cortada to the inside on which Arriaga made a great catch and return. A few more exchanges occurred and Arriaga threw that two wall carom which Areitio snagged and threw back to the inside but Arriaga was there again. Finally, Arriaga threw the cortada for the winner to end the point. The Miami team beat Zugaza and Erkiaga before Alberdi and Felix sat them down after a long exchange. Elorrio and Echave finally looked like they would make a move when the beat the Dania team and quickly disposed of Areitio and Iruta to get to three points.

Zelenka and Tim had something to say about that though when they played an excellent point to beat the Miami veterans when Elorrio was unable to handle Zelenka's cortada to the inside. Alberdi and Felix beat the Fort Pierce upstarts and were then quickly beaten by Arriaga and Pedrouzo and then beat Tampa's Lejardi and Iriondo when Lejardi was unable to handle the serve. Zulueta then made a great catch and throw from the outside to steal game point from the Miami team and were then taken out by Dania's Alberdi and Felix. Then the point of the night. I'll be honest by saying I don't know how many exchanges there were but, every shot in the jai-alai book was used and every one was handled. The point went inside and outside, front and back and both teams were throwing rockets all over the place.

Then one of the most phenomonal series of exchanges I have ever seen occurred between Alberdi and Areitio. First, Alberdi threw a sure winner two wall to the outside which Areitio some how managed to snag and throw back to the inside. Alberdi was there and threw soft inside dejada. Miraculously, Areitio recovered from the outside and made the save throwing a low reverse to the middle of the court which Alberdi snagged and rifled a cortada right back Areitio. Have no idea how he reacted and made the catch, but he did and went back outside, but Alberdi was there again and this time threw a two wall which Areitio unbelievably got to, caught and threw a two wall of his own which went about an inch on to the wood. Point and game to the Dania team but the crowd was on its feet with a standing ovation for both teams on their superb effort.

Standings After Round 1

Team                    Fronton         Points
Arriaga-Pedrouzo        Miami           24
Beheretche-Cuvet        Dania           14
Alberdi-Felix           Dania           13
Areitio-Iruta           Tampa           11
Zugaza-Erkiaga          Orlando          9
Elorrio-Echave          Miami            5
Zelenka-Tim             Fort Pierce      5
Zulueta-Dennis          Fort Pierce      4
Arteche-Elicegui        Orlando          3
Lejardi-Iriondo         Tampa            3
Round 2 next week at Dania with the final qualifying round on February 28th at Orlando.

For more information and comments from the players, see Shane Best's column at the Tampa web site at or to the NAJF Update at the Miami site at

Thanks to Tampa's Shane Best, Miami's Jim Verella, Dan Licciardi and big Aldrino, and Fort Pierce's Stu Nieman for the jai-alai night of my life.

What Else is Going On at Miami Jai-alai?

Player Updates

The Winter Season started on January 1st and with the new season came a lot of roster changes. In a ceremony recently held at Miami Jai-alai, veterans Gach, J.J. and Oregui were recognized upon their retirements from Jai-alai. The hard throwing and charasmatic Gach had hip surgery last year. He practiced but was unable to make the comeback. He played about 12 years in Miami and was always one of the more exciting players to watch. Nobody could ever accuse him of not giving 110 percent. Although not the official reason, I suspect injuries also got the best of J.J. who was frequently scratched from the program. The front courter, most noted for the deadly two wall carom he could throw from anywhere on the court, played for over 10 years at Miami.

A veteran of 23 years at Miami, Oregui was a cagy competitor whose experience and court savvy made him a force on the court right up until his last day. Not recognized, because his retirement was unexpected, was the talented young front courter Santi. My understanding is that is retirement is unrelated to Jai-alai and that he and his family simply made the decision to return to the homeland. He is an excellent player whose decision to cut his career short denied him of the opportunity to play to his potential. Ray is another who has elected to leave the game to pursue his contracting business in south Florida. His name still appears on the roster, but word is that he will not play again. In the Navy, we have a wish for people who leave the service, who have done a good job and deserve the very best in the future. To all five of these gents, I bid them "Fair Winds and Following Seas". Those are the smoothest sailing conditions that make Sailors very happy. I have enjoyed watching them all.

Daniel is currently out with a knee injury and his return date is unknown. I have heard that he expects to be ready for the NAJF Tournament of Champions. Castanos II fell on a ball and has been scratched recently.

Zulueta, Zumaya, Tim, Zelenka and Yoan have moved on to Fort Pierce for the winter season. Lief has been dropped from the roster.

A new player on the roster this season is Mouhica who played this past summer at Ocala. He is smooth and reminds me a lot of Pedrouzo. He was the premier back courter at Ocala and represented that fronton well in a couple of tournaments.

Here are your Top 10's updated through Monday, February 16, 1997

Wins                    Winning Pct.                In the Money Pct.
Reveles      48         Michelena     .226          Reveles      .456
Danny        44         Daniel        .178          Soroa        .453
Michelena    43         Montilla      .175          Montilla     .453
Mark         43         Reveles       .170          Daniel       .449
Mouhica      43         Castanos II   .160          Michelena    .437
Ricky        37         Ricky         .160          Fernandez    .432
Murelaga     37         Danny         .155          Arriza       .428
Lopetegui    37         Elorza        .154          Danny        .408
Txomin       36         Fernandez     .149          Arriaga      .406
Arriza       36         Dezec         .147          Mark         .403

All Players' Statistics through Monday, Feb 16, 1998

No.  Player           Games 1st  2nd  3rd  Win%  Money%
10   Magu             203   22   22   20   .108    .315
11   Ricky            231   37   22   24   .160    .359
12   Michelena        190   43   17   23   .226    .437
13   Kurt             267   23   38   38   .086    .371
14   Thomas           249   30   25   30   .120    .341
16   Irazabal II      112   13   15   14   .116    .375
17   Adam             277   29   34   43   .105    .383
18   Pedrouzo         233   31   27   28   .133    .369
20   Daniel           107   19   10   19   .178    .449
22   Benny            180   26   23   19   .144    .378
23   Danny            284   44   34   38   .155    .408
24   Mark             300   43   39   39   .143    .403
25   Scott            246   32   31   21   .130    .341
27   Insausti         215   25   23   28   .116    .353
30   Mouhica          294   43   44   25   .146    .381
32   Castanos II      163   26   22   16   .160    .393
33   Uriona           219   20   27   29   .091    .347
34   Manny            222   18   25   32   .081    .338
36   Harretche        264   28   36   27   .106    .345
37   Orbea            264   24   31   40   .091    .360
39   Ecenarro         242   24   30   26   .099    .331
41   Elorrio          202   26   21   19   .129    .327
42   Benjamin         222   21   31   32   .095    .378
43   Txomin           267   36   30   32   .135    .367
44   Art              267   30   35   37   .112    .382
45   Juanito          272   31   33   30   .114    .346
47   Arriaga          197   28   31   21   .142    .406
48   Lasa III         230   29   42   18   .126    .387
51   Soroa            256   34   35   47   .133    .453
52   Jackie            25    3    3    3   .120    .360
53   Irasu            228   26   35   27   .114    .386
55   Elorza           162   25   12   22   .154    .364
56   Murelaga         274   37   32   36   .135    .383
57   Sarria           205   21   21   23   .102    .317
58   Christophe       165   18   26   19   .109    .382
59   Castanos         266   30   28   36   .113    .353
60   Montilla         137   24   18   20   .175    .453
62   Plaza II         251   22   33   37   .088    .367
63   Arriza           276   36   43   39   .130    .428
64   Reveles          283   48   40   41   .170    .456
65   Fernandez        148   22   20   22   .149    .432
66   Lopetegui        272   37   32   32   .136    .371
67   Forestier        254   28   34   29   .110    .358
68   Dezec            231   34   28   25   .147    .377
69   Echave           228   26   25   31   .114    .360
70   Barrena          273   30   27   32   .110    .326
76   Corta II         231   21   33   34   .091    .381

Fort Pierce Jai-alai

Visited Fort Pierce for the first time and had a great time. It is a very nice facility with a beautiful cancha, good food, and outstanding ITW betting facilities. I was also impressed with the roster. It's not Miami, but there are some excellent players there and many familiar names. I have seen and had some inquiries about the roster so I thought I would share it with you. So, here it is:

No.     Name            Position        Birthdate       Birthplace
11      Jeraga          Front           5-9-68          USA
12      Rosendo         Front           9-8-71          Cuba
13      Baluja          Front           7-23-75         USA
14      Alex            Front           12-29-62        USA
15      Barinaga        Front           6-16-64         Spain
16      Cameron         Front           6-1-56          USA
17      Zelenka         Front           12-29-76        USA
18      Gorka           Front           6-17-74         France
19      Cancio          Front           6-25-77         USA
20      Anastasia       Front           1-27-64         USA
21      Felipe          Front           8-8-63          Mexico
22      Chiappetta      Front           1-3-71          USA
23      Zulueta         Front           2-9-65          Spain
25      Gonzalez        Front           3-1-72          France
26      Laucirica       Front           12-3-70         Spain
27      Arche           Front           1-6-65          Spain
38      Beto            Front           3-25-63         Mexico
30      Olin            Back            1-28-54         Spain
31      Yoan            Back            5-29-76         Cuba
33      Gandar          Back            6-7-61          Spain
34      Asis IV         Back            10-25-76        USA
35      Stock           Back            4-3-59          USA
36      Cisneros        Back            1-26-79         Mexico
37      Kosches         Back            4-22-65         USA
38      Tirillo         Back            9-27-74         USA
39      Carea II        Back            2-23-64         Spain
41      Ugarte          Back            3-28-73         Spain
42      Moore           Back            5-23-60         USA
43      Bereicua        Back            11-14-56        Spain
44      Dennis          Back            12-5-68         USA
45      Echaburu        Back            4-11-79         USA
47      Irusta          Back            9-20-65         Spain
49      Marshall        Back            3-12-61         USA
51      Zumaya          Back            7-3-63          Spain
55      Tim             Back            11-7-59         USA

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