U.S. OPEN WOMEN'S HANDICAP®
The U.S. Open Women’s Handicap was established in 1979 to showcase women’s polo following the inclusion of women into the United States Polo Association in 1972. The inaugural tournament was held at Carmel Valley Polo Club in Carmel, California. An excerpt from the 1980 USPA Bluebook describes the results, “the Women’s U.S. Handicap, sponsored by the USPA, was won by Carmel Valley. Representatives from five states played on four teams entered. Sunset [Sunny] Hale (age 10), Susie Welker, Sue Sally Hale and Stormie Hale were the champions beating Modesto, Jan Walker, Oatsie Von Gontard, Susan Walton and Bonni Middleton 4-1. Top scoring, Sue Sally Hale—nine for both days.”
A staple in the USPA calendar, the U.S. Open Women’s Handicap was played for 15 consecutive years, primarily at Willow Bend Polo Club in Plano, Texas. During this time American Airlines dominated the competition with a remarkable five-year winning streak (1988-1992), key players Maggie Mitchell and Kim Kelly together formed part of each winning team. The tournament then took residence at The Villages Polo Club in The Villages, Florida, throughout the late 90s and early 2000s. Many top women’s players have captured this illustrious title, including Vickie Armour, Alina Carta, Cindy Halle, Carolyn Stimmel, Lesley-Ann Masterton Fong-Yee and Oatsie von Gontard.
From 2003 to 2014 the U.S. Open Women’s Handicap fell into abeyance. It was revived in 2015 at Houston Polo Club (Houston, Texas) with the reemergence of the U.S. Open Women’s Polo Championship. Since relocating to Houston Polo Club, notable repeat champions include Lia Salvo (2015, 2016, 2017), Grace Mudra (2016, 2017, 2022), Carolyn Stimmel (2016, 2017), Joanie Jackson (2019, 2021), Athena Malin (2019, 2021) KC Krueger (2020, 2022) and Stephanie Colburn (2020, 2021).
In 2022, the exhilarating finale featured a head-to-head battle between QR Jets (Grace Mudra, Lily Lequerica, KC Krueger, Sarah Wiseman) and BCI/Alliant (Cara Kennedy, Sophie Grant, Maddie Grant, Anna Winslow-Palacios). Assembling at Tonkawa’s Wilson field, the captivating showdown was the second of two tight contests between the two teams. Falling just short to BCI/Alliant 8-6 in bracket play, QR Jets turned to strategy and discipline to prevail against their familiar foes in a back-and-forth rematch to clench the coveted title 7-5. Read article here.
This year's edition of the U.S. Open Women's Handicap will feature a talented field of four teams competing for the title, including numerous returning competitors to the national stage. QR Jets will attempt to defend their title alongside new addition Madison Jordan to the roster. Reigning champion Grace Mudra will seek her fourth victory, joining last year's finalists BCI/Alliant. Team USPA alumnae Tiamo Hudspeth and Audry Persano unite for Lugano Diamonds, as each member of Propaganda will vie to reach the top of the U.S. Open Women's Handicap podium for the first time.
Houston Polo Club will be taking advantage of the USPA's Tournament Support Program (TSP) for the U.S. Open Women's Handicap, which provides eligible USPA Member Clubs with waived tournament fees, trophies or trophy reimbursements, one professional umpire and $2,500 in prize money at no extra cost.
The USPA originally created the Tournament Stimulus Package (TSP) to help member clubs host USPA events when the United States was emerging from the first wave of the COVID-19 crisis. The USPA wanted to continue to support member clubs with TSP benefits in 2022. Therefore, it extended and expanded TSP under a new name - the Tournament Support Program. Each USPA Member Club can obtain TSP benefits for two USPA events, with the option of a third under specific circumstances.
2022 U.S. Open Women's Handicap Champions: QR Jets - Sarah Wiseman, KC Krueger, Lily Lequerica, Grace Mudra. Pictured with QR Jets' sponsor Todd Riemenschneider. ©Kaylee Wroe