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APPL FINALS HUGE SUCCESS AS 10-GOAL STARS COMPETE ALONGSIDE UP-AND-COMING LOCAL PLAYERS IN FLORIDA

Mar 26, 2018 5:18 PM

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All Pro Polo League USA Champions: La Hache/Villa del Lago - Jared Zenni, Hilario Ulloa, Jason Crowder, Justin Daniels.
All Pro Polo League USA Champions: La Hache/Villa del Lago - Jared Zenni, Hilario Ulloa, Jason Crowder, Justin Daniels.

The All Pro Polo League (APPL) USA came to an end Friday, March 23, with four exciting matches at the Outback Field, graciously provided by Curtis Pilot, located on the International Polo Club Palm Beach grounds in Wellington, Florida. The league works with a set of new rules to motivate dynamic, open, and fully professional polo. Team USPA member, Jared Zenni, and 2018 Team USPA Candidate, Justin Daniels captured the win in the All Pro Polo League Final with La Hache/Villa del Lago alongside American 6-goal player Jason Crowder and 10 goaler Hilario Ulloa. The unique format of the final gave teams only three chukkers to outscore their opponents and secure their position in the final.

Four teams, composed of the top twelve young, up-and-coming American players and four 10-goal superstars (Facundo Pieres, Sapo Caset, Gonzalito Pieres and Hilario Ulloa), battled it out to win the APPL eagle trophy.

Open Polo's Santi Torres and Gonzalito Pieres.
Open Polo's Santi Torres and Gonzalito Pieres.

Open Polo and La Zeta kicked off the day’s action with a fast and fluid match. Team USPA player Santi Torres meshed well with 10-goal legend Gonzalito Pieres, and Open Polo claimed the victory to qualify for the final. Up next, La Hache-Villa del Lago defeated Sapo Caset’s Santa Maria de Lobos, in a game which saw spectacular runs from Hilario Ulloa. La Hache’s win allowed them to advance in the tournament and fight Open Polo for the title.

La Hache/Villa del Lago's Hilario Ulloa on a breakaway at full speed.
La Hache/Villa del Lago's Hilario Ulloa on a breakaway at full speed.

The APPL USA final was the expression of full speed polo. It was a well fought match, with La Hache maintaining a slight lead throughout. La Hache/Villa del Lago held a slight advantage with Zenni and Ulloa currently competing together in the 26-goal USPA Gold Cup®. Zenni was selected for Team USPA in 2015. He has devoted himself to improving his play and continuing to compete at the highest level possible. With the fast, open style of play promoted in the All Pro Polo League, Zenni jumped at the chance to participate.

“The style of APPL is really similar to the type of polo played in the U.S. Open and Argentine Open,” said Zenni. “It makes you think quickly – you need to get to the ball with a plan. You can’t get to the ball and think, then hit. I also think limiting the horses teaches you to pick your plays. If you try to do everything yourself and go into every play your horses will get tired, but if you pick your plays and use each of the members of your team, your horses are fine at the end of the four minutes. I think that is a big benefit of APPL, you learn to maximize each player on the field.”

Jared Zenni prepares for a backshot as Wesley Bryan bumps hard on defense.
La Hache/Villa del Lago's Jared Zenni prepares for a backshot as Wesley Bryan of Open Polo bumps hard on defense.

A goal by Open Polo’s Wesley Bryan tied the match just as the final bell rang, taking the final into a penalty shootout. After several missed attempts, Jason Crowder sent a 60-yard shot between the posts to give La Hache-Villa del Lago the All Pro Polo League title.

“I am very happy to have played and to have won with La Hache,” shared Ulloa. “The league creates a wonderful spectacle, with open, four-man polo. I think this is a great initiative on Javier Tanoira’s part. He always tells us that this project belongs to everyone, because it is something designed to benefit polo, and that we all have to feel included.”

“I like that Javier [Tanoira] invited the best young Americans to play with the 10 goalers,” said Caset. “I think that it is great for polo as a whole for us to mix. A lot of people are very excited about the league. Every player put their best foot forward and lots of people came out to support us. I would love the All Pro Polo League to continue evolving.”

Participants of the All Pro Polo League pictured with APPL Founder Javier Tanoira and USPA CEO Bob Puetz.
Participants of the All Pro Polo League pictured with APPL Founder Javier Tanoira and USPA CEO Bob Puetz.

“I think the APPL is something polo needs if it is ever going to reach the level of any other sport in the world,” says Mariano Gracida, finalist of the tournament. “As a young player from the States trying to make it to play 22-goal, it is very special to be playing with the 10-goalers. For me it is a learning experience without having the pressure to win, and I think that allowed me to play better. Personally, it was my favorite game of the year.”

A large crowd of people gathered to watch the tournament, and many others tuned in online via the USPA Polo Network. “This was the first time we had the chance to work with the USPA Polo Network and ChukkerTV, where they filmed and livestreamed the matches,” highlights Javier Tanoira, Founder of the APPL. “What they do is amazing, and their studio is very impressive. They are the kind of partner we need if we want to film our tournaments at a high level.”

The All Pro Polo League World Tour continues in April, with a tournament in São Paulo, Brazil. Follow @allpropolo for information and news about the league.

All photos courtesy of ©David Lominska/All Pro Polo League.

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