Nov 07, 2016 7:04 PM
The U.S. Open Women’s Polo Championship® at the Houston Polo Club in Houston, Texas, will begin this Tuesday, November 8, culminating with the final match on Sunday, November 13. Six teams comprised of top women’s players from across the nation and around the world will be taking the field to compete for the most prestigious women’s tournament in the country.
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 has been hosted at the Houston Polo Club for the past six years, becoming the largest annual women’s polo event in the United States.
In its twenty-first century revival, Maureen Brennan holds the record for winning four of the five championships that have been held at Houston Polo Club. In 2011, Brennan won the reinstated tournament alongside U.S. Open Women’s Polo Championship® record title-holder Sunny Hale, Dawn Jones and Kristy Outhier. Brennan’s winning team each year has varied, incorporating Team USPA member Julia Smith, as well as English polo phenoms, Sarah Wiseman and Claire Brougham. Goose Creek/Northern Trust dominance has only been upset once. In 2012 Goose Creek lost in the semifinals to San Saba, who would later be narrowly defeated 6-5 in the final by A-F Farm (Karen Reese, Dayelle Fargey, Tiffany Busch, Lia Salvo substitute for Abby Riggs).
Competing for the U.S. Open Women’s Polo Championship® trophy this year are a record six teams. 2015 champions Northern Trust are not among the teams competing this year which has opened up the competition with new team configurations and an exciting opportunity for a first-time champion.
U.S. Open Women’s Polo Championship® staple team BTA has competed every year at the Houston Polo Club, arriving at the finals three out of five appearances narrowly missing the mark by a single goal each time. Will this be the year for mother-daughter duo Chrys Beal and K.C. Kreuger, along with Argentine pro Lia Salvo and newcomer Sol Lopez Llames to finally claim their much alluded championship title? Not to mention, Salvo’s recent history making Jockey Club Open win. The first woman to win a high-goal tournament in Argentina, she garnered the victory alongside Adolfo Cambiaso, Juan Martin Nero and Pablo MacDonough. In contrast, this will be the first year for La Mariposa USA. Half of La Mariposa USA hails from Atlanta, Georgia, (Anja Jacobs and Jolie Liston) and is rounded out by seasoned Argentine professional Mumy Bellande and 2014 U.S. Open Women’s Polo Championship® winner Claire Brougham—hot off her Flight A and B victories in the Florida Circuit Women’s Challenge at the Villages Polo Club in The Villages, Florida.
2015 finalists Rocking P/Plank Co’s has split to create two separate teams, Plank Companies and Rocking P Lockton. Plank Companies led by Texas A&M intercollegiate player Kendall Plank will once again contend for the trophy alongside Canadian Dayelle Fargey and French teammate Caroline Anier (1990 U.S. Open Championship Winner), swapping Hazel Jackson for Argentine Ines Lalor—to create a truly international team roster. Hazel Jackson will now be donning the Rocking P Lockton jersey with fellow English teammate Sarah Wiseman and three-time U.S. Open Women’s Polo Championship® winner Kristy Outhier. Splitting the fourth position will be 18-year-old Courtney Price and 16-year-old Athena Malin. San Saba veterans Clarissa Echezarreta and Dawn Jones will team up with women’s polo legend Sunny Hale and Florida high-goal Flexjet team captain Melissa Ganzi. Last but not least, Land Rover is comprised of Colorado-based Erica Gandomcar-Sachs, Team USPA member Tiamo Hudspeth, Lauren Biddle (daughter of 5-goaler Tommy Biddle) and Argentine newcomer Clara Cassino Seppe.
The draw was announced on Sunday, November 6, and opening round matches are scheduled to begin on Tuesday, November 10. The final is slated to be played on Sunday, November 13, at the Houston Polo Club (earlier matches will be played on a number of private fields). Visit www.houstonpoloclub.com for information on tickets to the U.S. Open Women’s Polo Championship® Finals and the Houston Polo Blog for an up-to-date schedule with field assignments.
A. La Mariposa USA
B. Land Rover
D. Plank Companies
E. San Saba
F. Rocking P Lockton
Tuesday, November 8
3:00pm ET - Land Rover def. La Mariposa USA (10-4)
3:00pm ET - Rocking P Lockton def. San Saba (9-4)
5:00pm ET - BTA def. Plank Companies (4-3)
Thursday, November 10
1:00pm ET - La Mariposa USA vs. San Saba vs. Plank Companies (playoff round robin, winner advances to semifinals)
Friday, November 11
12:00pm ET - Semi 1
1:30pm ET - Semi 2
Sunday, November 13
3:00pm ET - U.S. Open Women’s Polo Championship® Final
Effective Date: Saturday, May 16, 2020
The suspension of USPA Tournaments and Events will be lifted for USPA Member Clubs in locales where hosting polo matches and tournaments is permitted under applicable state and local laws, executive orders and similar decrees. The USPA Member Clubs in these locales are encouraged to follow all such requirements of their state and local authorities with respect to polo operations. In addition, we also encourage all USPA Member Clubs to take the precautions recommended by the CDC. We are preparing a detailed list of best practices for USPA Member Clubs as they return to hosting USPA Tournaments and Events and plan to circulate these guidelines within the next week. We will continue to monitor the COVID-19 situation closely and will notify you if we determine a different course of action is necessary.Read More