Victor Andonegi Gazagaetxeberria
Born in Mutriku (7/12/69)
Married, with two children
West Palm Beach
DYR: Victor, tell us about your initial experiences as a young amateur player.
" I remember the partidos that I played during Sunday afternoons. In the beginning I used to practice with tennis balls using the wall of our school I was only 13 years old. Later on, I started playing in Mutriku's fronton under the guidance of Luis Mari Altuna (coach). I can recall as if it were yesterday the first one-handed rebote return that I made We were just little kids back them We barely could reach the front wall. I remember one time when I got hit square in the testicles with the pelota. I was in so much pain that I developed a cold sweat and I could just about walk home. I spent all afternoon lying on the couch. I also recall the partidos that we used to play in Markina on Saturday mornings. Those were great years to be a Jai Alai player"
DYR: Do you remember your pro debut?
"Oh, yes! It was a terrific feeling! I made the debut in West Palm Beach in 1986. All seats were full !! More than 4.000 people watching us Unbelievable !!"
Left to Right:
Andonegi, Agarre, Bascaran, Robles - Newport, 1986
DYR: Back then, Art Sylvester possessed a great roster in his frontons (Newport, WPB). Who was the player that impressed you most?
"Without a doubt, Felix ! I didn't know him so when I saw him playing I was impressed. Bolivar was also playing but I really liked to see and play against Felix. Felix's right forehand and his mobility on the cancha were superb."
With my pal Robles in Newport, 1986
DYR: Do you remember Marshall ? He died this year.
"What ? Are you serious ? I'm sorry to hear that. He was a good man. I used to go out with him in Newport. He was heavy, but he was agile and he possessed a great placement on the cancha."
DYR: In April, 1988, the professional players went on strike. Do you have anything to say ?
"I was only 19 years old and I really didn't know the consequences of a strike. The vast majority of us believed that we could go head on against the jai-alai companies and in then end we could win the battle. It turned out to be a tough battle very hard ! But to be honest with you, those years were special to me very special in my life ! I grew as a person and also I learned to be loyal to others."
Strike: Newport, 1988 with friend/teammate "Sali"
DYR: Victor, you retired very early You were only 21 years old. Why didn't you return?
" Like I said before, I learned a lot on the strike I learned English and when I returned to my homeland I found many opportunities to get good jobs. I played partidos (amateur), for couple of years. I also participated in tournaments but slowly I stopped playing I just didn't have time anymore !!"
DYR: Do you have family members that played jai-alai ?
" My brother, Felipe Andonegi, played in Bridgeport and Milford."
DYR: Victor, what do you do nowadays ?
I'm the Business Director of a factory. I have been working for 12 years now I'm very happy with my job. I don't practice jai-alai anymore but I'm active and I do exercise a lot. My family is the center of my life."
Andonegi with the daughter of a friend
DYR: What's going on with Cesta Punta ?
"The best moments are gone I don't think we will see the glory days again. I don't think there is a solution."
Interview date: 12/16/05
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