Mar 01, 2023 9:13 PM
One of the biggest rivalry tournaments in the sport, The Westchester Cup, is set to return on Friday, March 31 after a three-year hiatus. This year's competition will feature a strong team from the USA facing off against a formidable team from England at the USPA National Polo Center - Wellington (NPC) in Florida. The event promises to be an electrifying display of athleticism and sportsmanship, with top-notch players competing in this historic match on American soil. Outfitting the USA team with official performance jerseys and equipment as the Official Apparel Partner, U.S. Polo Assn. is proud to promote the brand during the pinnacle of international polo competition.
The Westchester Cup has been played 19 times throughout its 137-year-old history, only seven of which have taken place since World War II. The cup, created by Tiffany & Co., is currently held by the USA, after a talented American team including Geronimo Obregon, Mariano 'Peke' Gonzalez Jr., Michael Azzaro and Jared Zenni defeated England 9-8 in overtime in 2019 to capture the title. This victory marked the first win for the U.S. after an impressive run of four consecutive wins for England.
In the history of the Westchester Cup, the U.S. has emerged victorious on 12 occasions, while Britain has triumphed seven times. Although the tournament is not held annually, the U.S. has enjoyed significant success over the years, particularly during the mid-to-late 20th century. The American team secured an impressive six consecutive wins between 1921 and 1992, cementing their dominance in this polo rivalry.
Matt Coppola, Nico Escobar, Jeff Hall, and Jared Zenni will proudly represent the stars and stripes in this year's international match. The USA team boasts a group of accomplished players, each with a decorated career in the sport of polo.
England announced that its team will be composed of James Beim, Max Charlton, Mark Tomlinson and team captain Tomas Beresford. A team filled with returning victors, England’s Beim and Tomlinson combined forces to win the 2013 Westchester Cup, while Beresford and Beim worked together to triumph in the 2018 edition. The England collective joins the competition this year eager to avenge their 2019 overtime loss.
The game will be played using the players’ world’s highest handicaps, meaning that players will compete on their highest handicap on record. For England, all the players’ English handicaps match their world’s highest handicap level. For USA, several of the players will be handicapped based on their Argentine rating. The handicaps for both teams are as follows:
USA (25): Matt Coppola (5), Nico Escobar (6), Jeff Hall (7), Jared Zenni (7)
England (25): James Beim (6), Tomas Beresford (7), Max Charlton (6), Mark Tomlinson (6)
Escobar’s highest world rating is 6 in Argentina. Similarly, Hall and Zenni are handicapped at 7 goals in Argentina. Coppola is handicapped at 4 goals in Argentina, but 5 in the U.S., so he will remain 5 goals. Using this system, the two teams are both rated 25 goals. The match will be six chukkers.
Nico Escobar will be making his debut in the Westchester Cup. However, Escobar is no stranger to international success, having recently earned a silver medal in the FIP World Polo Championship. He also shares a strong on-field chemistry with teammate Jeff Hall, having previously won the 2020 USPA Gold Cup and 2020 Silver Cup together. Escobar's wealth of experience and proven track record make him a valuable asset to the USA team.
Coppola also joins the team as a first-time Westchester Cup competitor but is well-prepared for the challenge at hand having won the C.V. Whitney Cup on two occasions.
Zenni is the only returning Westchester Cup victor, now hoping to replicate his 2019 success with his new teammates. “I’m very excited to play again for the USA for the Westchester Cup,” he commented. “I played in 2019 and won. It was the first time the U.S. had won in a while. The experience this time will be a little different, just because we have different teammates [and] I’ve matured as a player.”
Hall is a returning Westchester Cup competitor, playing in both 2009 and 2018. In both instances, USA fell to England, so he will battle for his first win in the event. Hall brings with him the most experience. His Hall of Fame career has earned him wins in the C.V. Whitney Cup, USPA Gold Cup, U.S. Open Polo Championship, and most notably, a remarkable 10 wins in the Silver Cup. And while Hall has not yet triumphed in this international contest, he is more confident now than ever. He shared, “I have played before and lost both times. I’m hoping the third time will be the winner. I think this time we will be better prepared than before.”
The USA team is in an excellent position to prepare for the upcoming international match, as the same roster is also competing for La Elina in the Gauntlet of Polo. La Elina is returning to the Gauntlet of Polo for the second year, following an impressive debut season that saw a runner-up finish in the 2022 U.S. Open Polo Championship. Although Jared Zenni is the only returning member of the team for 2023, La Elina remains a cohesive unit, featuring a balanced lineup. Notably, La Elina is the only Gauntlet team composed entirely of American players, bringing an added patriotic energy to the competition.
Similar to Hall, Zenni feels confident in the USA team. “The team will be the same team for La Elina. This is obviously going to be an advantage because we're going to get two high-goal tournaments under our belts playing with each other, plus team practices.” He continued, “The horses will be fit. All of that will make a huge difference in having an advantage going into the Westchester Cup.”
Coppola echoed this sentiment. “[This experience] will get us together a lot and [allow us] to get to know each other as teammates. We will have a lot of time to prepare and be ready for the Westchester Cup.”
Zenni also believes that the Westchester Cup will be great preparation for the U.S. Open Polo Championship. “The Westchester Cup will allow us to prepare for the U.S. Open Polo Championship because, honestly, it puts you under pressure. The pressure is a little different because you’re playing for your country, [but] having that pressure and that experience can build you up for the moments that might come in the U.S. Open.”
Three of the players, Coppola, Escobar, and Zenni, are alumni of Team USPA, a unique program that aims to develop and promote the sport of polo in the United States. The program identifies young and talented American players and provides them with guided training and playing opportunities, which eventually leads to the creation of a higher-rated pool of amateur and professional players who can contribute to the growth and success of the sport of polo.
A match-up rich with experience, rivalry, and tenacity, the 2023 edition of the Westchester Cup promises to be an exhilarating display of talent and drive, all of which will take place right here in the U.S. at NPC. The game will be played on Friday, March 31 at 4:00pm ET. 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 this unique and patriotic event. Tickets can be purchased at nationalpolocenter.com.
The match will also be livestreamed by USPA Polo Network and available to watch on uspolo.org as well as across USPA social media channels, including YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Twitch. Additionally, the match will be available on the ESPN family of brands. Check your local listings for times and channels.
To learn more about the Westchester Cup and stay up-to-date on the latest news, please visit the Westchester Cup landing page.
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