U.S. OPEN WOMEN'S POLO CHAMPIONSHIP®
The U.S. Open Women’s Polo Championship® has a profound history dating back to the 1930s in California. The first women’s U.S. Open tournament was presented by the United States Women’s Polo Association (U.S.W.P.A) in 1937 at the Golden Gate Field in San Francisco, California, in 1937. Riviera (Louise Tracey, Dorothy Rodgers, Audrey Scott, Ruth Cropp) defeated Santa Barbara 9-4 to capture the inaugural title. The U.S.W.P.A., the first and only women’s polo association in the history of American polo, created a women’s handicapping system mirroring that of the men, with one nine-goal player and several eight-goal players. The U.S.W.P.A. played eight to ten tournaments a year accumulating 300 members and 25 clubs in its ten-year tenure. At the onset of World War II however, the women focused their attention towards the war effort.
Women were officially welcomed into the United States Polo Association in 1972 with Sue Sally Hale becoming the first woman member. A devoted advocate of women in polo, Hale was alleged to have disguised herself as a man in order to compete in tournaments throughout the 1950s and 60s. U.S. Open Women’s Polo Championship® competition did not resurface until the early 1990s. On the centennial anniversary of the USPA in 1990, a U.S. Women’s Open was officially sanctioned and held at Empire Polo Club in Indio, California. Appropriately, Hale along with her two daughters, Sunny and Stormie captured the title with teammate Caroline Anier. In an electrifying overtime match, Empire defeated Palmera Hanalei Bay 10-9, with Anier scoring the sudden-death goal in the seventh chukker. After a few years of competition at Empire Polo Club, U.S. Open Women’s Polo Championship® competition once again lost momentum, this time for only a couple decades. It was officially recognized as a national tournament in 2011 and was hosted at the Houston Polo Club until 2018.
The most prestigious cup in women's polo in the United States, the U.S. Open Women's Polo Championship® relocated to Florida in 2019 with preliminary games played at Port Mayaca Polo Club in Okeechobee, Florida, and the final at the International Polo Club Palm Beach in Wellington, Florida.
The COVID-19 pandemic suspended play in 2020 before the semifinals were completed, however the conclusion was rescheduled in 2021. BTA/The Villages and Hawaii Polo Life met in the final with Hawaii Polo Life capturing back-to-back titles, surviving a final chukker charge from BTA/The Villages to capture the 6-5 victory. In 2021, Hawaii Polo Life have their sights set on a three-peat, returning with three of the four players from their championship team, swapping out Nina Clarkin with 10-goaler Hazel Jackson. Challenging Hawaii Polo Life will be four teams all returning from last year's competition, including BTA/The Villages, Dundas, Hawaii Polo Life, Iconica and Polo Gear (co-sponsored this year with Coffee Company). Most notably, amongst the competition is Active Team USPA Member and U.S. Polo Assn. Global Brand Ambassador Hope Arellano (Dundas), who is also the youngest player in the competition at 17 years old. The U.S. Open Women's Polo Championship® will have preliminary games at Port Mayaca Polo Club in Okeechobee, Florida with the final slated for Saturday, March 20, on the U.S. Polo Assn. Field 1 at the International Polo Club Palm Beach.
2020 U.S. Open Women's Polo Championship® Winner: Hawaii Polo Life - Dolores Onetto, Pamela Flanagan, Mia Cambiaso, Nina Clarkin ©David Lominska