USPA WOMEN'S ARENA OPEN®
Women’s arena competition has a recent history in the sport beginning with the creation of the Women’s Intercollegiate Championship in the late 1970s, followed by the Girls’ Interscholastic Championship in the early 1990s. Empire Polo Club in Indio, California, hosted the first USPA-sanctioned Women’s Arena Open in 1991. After a three-year stint however, the tournament fell into abeyance. With the exponential growth of women’s polo in recent years, the Association recognized the need for a national tournament celebrating the best of women’s arena competition.
Championed by University of Virginia Coach Lou Lopez, the USPA Women’s Arena Open first took shape in 2016 at Virginia Polo, Inc. in Charlottesville, Virginia, as the Women’s Arena Challenge Cup. While the original aim had been to hold an open tournament, Association regulations limited an “open” arena tournament to a 12-goal handicap and above. The highest-rated woman at the time, the late Sunny Hale, was rated at 5-goals in the arena, followed by only two 4-goal women’s arena players, closing the door on the possibility of the tournament with regular arena handicaps. Luckily a precedent had already been set with the creation of the U.S. Open Women’s Polo Championship, the outdoor grass version. The addition of women’s outdoor handicaps sparked the concept of women’s arena handicaps, which allowed multiple teams to meet the required handicap level for an open tournament.
As a National USPA Arena Event, the USPA Women’s Arena Open is a qualifying tournament for all amateur players -1 through 3 goals to earn points towards the National Arena Amateur Cup (NAAC) which will be held at Legend's Polo Club in Kaufman, Texas, in November 2023. Points are based on the number of teams and team standing in each tournament. All points are awarded to each team member, not the team as a whole.
In 2022, OC Polo (Mila Slutzky, Cindy Halle, Marissa Wells) went head-to-head against the formidable Rancho Arroyo/Luna Polo. Highlighted by talented play and teamwork as well as impressive use of the boards, OC Polo’s second half resolution to control the ball paid off, ultimately delivering a decisive 16-11 win, with 11 goals coming off the mallet of Wells. Read article here.
Proudly returning to Orange County Polo Club (OC Polo) in Silverado, California for a second consecutive year, four teams will battle for the coveted title including Bad Ass Polo, Christian Brothers, Luna Polo and OC Polo. Highlighted by one of the highest-rated American women's arena players, 9-goaler and Team USPA alumna Marissa Wells will return to defend OC Polo's title alongside Mila Slutzky. Displaying the breadth of exceptional talent and deep roots throughout all levels of polo, the rosters feature many National Youth Tournament Series Championship (NYTS) and eleven Intercollegiate/Interscholastic (I/I) alumnae from across the country, including the inaugural recipient of the I/I Young Alumni Award, Jenny Schwartz.
Orange County Polo Club will be taking advantage of the USPA's Tournament Support Program (TSP) for the USPA Women's Arena Open, 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.
Photo: 2022 USPA Women's Arena Open Champions: OC Polo - Mila Slutzky, Cindy Halle, Marissa Wells. ©Josh Kizziar