It was quite a week for America’s first and only public Jai-alai cancha in the United States.
Last Saturday, former French star “Danny” brought along his buddy Jean “Olharan” for a visit to the Museum and then an appearance at the St. Petersburg court. Danny was a catching machine and played in various frontons including stints in Hartford and Miami. His French buddy, 33-year-old Olharan, is a world-class frontcourter who plays in tournaments internationally and is considered by Danny as among the top 3 frontcourters in the world today.
A couple of days earlier, a former world champion player, France’s “Oleveair” came by to check out America’s public court. It just so happened that a group of about 6 players were out there playing, and he immediately jumped in and played. He last threw a pelota in France over twenty years ago and based on what we saw after just a couple of throws and catches, this guy was good. Real good. He borrowed my basket and was throwing some nice pills. Due to some serious language translation problems, we were not able to get the full details on him and where was he a world champion with, etc. Research by our historian Mark K produced a player by the name of “Olha”, but Benny confirmed that was not him.
Olharan had made a point to visit the jai-alai museum and was able to make the trip while on his last full day in the United States with Danny, who was making the four-hour drive to photograph some nature wildlife at St. Petersburg’s Fort DeSoto Park, regarded as one of the top beaches in the United States.
Incredibly, the next day, Olharan was on a 17-hour flight back to his home and then to Guernica, Spain to compete in the Jai-alai Winter Series and going up against Goiko in a doubles match.. After losing the first game with Basque in the backcourt, they won the second and third 15-point matches for the win. He also won his 15-point game while playing in St. Pete too, adjusting to the court in no time at all.