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 Golden Gate Field in San Francisco, California. 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 10 tournaments a year accumulating 300 members and 25 clubs in its 10-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 (USPA) in 1972 with Sue Sally Hale becoming one of the first woman members. The modern 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. It was officially recognized as a national tournament in 2011, and was hosted at Houston Polo Club (Houston, Texas) until it found a permanent home in South Florida in 2018.
The most prestigious cup in women's polo in the United States, the 2023 U.S. Open Women's Polo Championship presented by Eastern Hay will be hosted by Port Mayaca Polo Club (PMPC) in Okeechobee, Florida. Preliminary games will take place at PMPC, with the final slated for Sunday, March 19 at 3:00pm ET, on U.S. Polo Assn. Field One at the National Polo Center - Wellington (NPC).
Spectating from the NPC stadium, private boxes, fieldside tailgates and special hospitality tents all overlooking U.S. Polo Assn. Field One is an unparalleled experience available for the U.S. Open Women's Polo Championship Final. Tickets can be purchased at nationalpolocenter.com.
In 2022, Hawaii Polo Life's (Cecily Coors, Pamela Flanagan, Mia Cambiaso, Hazel Jackson) dominant and unified play landed them back into finals contention for the fourth consecutive year (2019, 2020, 2021, 2022). Facing a skillful and prepared opponent in Blue Water (Sophie Grant, Kylie Sheehan, Izzy Parsons, Meghan Shader-Jumet), a determined Hawaii Polo Life utilized the experience and dynamism of Jackson and Cambiaso resulting in a resounding 8-3 title victory and for the first time in U.S. Open Women’s Polo Championship history, $30,000 in prize money. Read article here.
This year's edition of the U.S. Open Women's Polo Championship will feature many familiar faces spanning five talented teams. Reigning victors Pamela Flanagan and Hazel Jackson will team up once more under a new team name - La Fe. Their former teammate Mia Cambiaso will be joining Dundas. Making her U.S. Open Women's Polo Championship debut for La Fe is Winifred Branscum, who looks to continue her steady rise following her victory in the 2022 National Youth Tournament Series (NYTS) Girls' Championship. 2022 runner-up Sophie Grant will unite with her older sister Maddie for BTA, while Kylie Sheehan returns on San Saba. El Cid Fitness will round-out the competition.
Representing Team USPA are Active Members Hope Arellano (La Fe) and Sophie Grant (BTA) and alumna Kylie Sheehan (San Saba). 10-goalers competing this year include Nina Clarkin (Dundas) and 2022 U.S. Open Women's Polo Championship's Most Valuable Player Hazel Jackson (La Fe).
Additionally, The U.S. Open Women's Polo Championship with the sponsorship of Eastern Hay and the USPA Tournament Support Program, will award $40,000. The prize will be split between first ($30,000) and second ($10,000) place teams.
Port Mayaca Polo Club will be taking advantage of the USPA's Tournament Support Program (TSP) for the U.S. Open Women's Polo Championship, which provides eligible USPA Member Clubs with waived tournament fees, trophies or trophy reimbursements up to $1,200, 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.
Photo: 2022 U.S. Open Women's Polo Championship Winners: Hawaii Polo Life - Hazel Jackson, Mia Cambiaso, Pamela Flanagan, Cecily Coors. Pictured with team owner Chris Dawson. ©David Lominska