May 03, 2022 8:13 PM
As preparations continue and anticipation builds around the XII FIP World Polo Championship October 26 – November 6, the USA team has been narrowed down to eight talented players each hoping to represent their country on the international stage. Beginning with a list of over 250 Americans handicapped from 2- to 5-goals, 35 players were selected to try out over two months of 14-goal competition at Port Mayaca Polo Club (Okeechobee, Florida).
Drawing upon their own expertise in the sport, USA team coach Julio Arellano, assistant coach Jesse Bray*, International Committee Chairman Jeff Hall, Team USPA Committee Chairman Mason Wroe*, and USPA Chairman Stewart Armstrong made up the Selection Committee and evaluated the combinations based on team chemistry, skill, horsemanship and player coachability.
“The fact that several of these players are Team USPA just goes to show that the program itself is on the right track in identifying young up-and-coming American players, who with our support, and their own hard work and dedication, will hopefully have a better chance of climbing the ladder and reaching high-level handicaps,” Wroe emphasized. A rostered team member and an alternate will be chosen for each handicap and all players will compete on their highest handicap worldwide to ensure handicap equality for FIP participants.
“I have observed these players competing together and I’ve watched how they’ve played individually,” said USA team coach Julio Arellano. “From the eight I will focus on which groups have the best team chemistry but I was looking for players who would be able to play well on pooled horses and are team players.” J5 Equestrian will be the sole horse provider for the championship and has mounted top high-goal teams including Scone, Tamera, SD Farms, Dundas and Hawaii Polo Life. Featuring a couple siblings, many young up-and-coming players and GAUNTLET OF POLO competitors, the eight players chosen are listed below:
Nico Diaz Alberdi*
Starting off 2022 strong, Hope Arellano and Nico Diaz Alberdi won the inaugural U.S. Junior Open Test Match for Port Mayaca. Competing in both women’s and mixed polo, Hope Arellano represented the USA in 2021 in the first Women’s Copa de Las Naciones in Argentina and played for Dundas in the 2022 U.S. Open Women’s Polo Championship. Arellano will also make history as the first woman to represent the U.S. since the inception of the FIP World Polo Championship. “I am very proud that Hope is helping other females reach new levels of the sport, similar to other women did before her, including Sunny Hale,” Arellano said with excitement.
Active throughout the Florida season, Joaquin Avendaño opened the 18-goal season with a victory for Patagones in the Joe Barry Memorial and Magrini added his name to the Ylvisaker Cup (CK Shack). Both elevated their game to compete in the GAUNTLET OF POLO and inaugural 16-goal Wellington Polo Tour, earning Avendaño the Continental Cup (Patagones) and Magrini the Outback Invitational (Palm Beach Equine).
Making his GAUNTLET debut in 2022 as a substitute for Santa Rita Polo Farm, Klentner made headlines after a spectacular 2021 season at Santa Barbara Polo & Racquet Club (Carpinteria, California), winning both the Silver Cup and Pacific Coast Open (Klentner Ranch). Brothers Nico and Lucas Escobar have also made waves on both coasts with Nico securing the 2020 USPA Gold Cup (La Indiana) and Lucas a two-time USPA America Cup champion (2019 and 2020).
Seven members of the USA team will have the opportunity to train together for a month beginning in September in Argentina to decide the starting lineup. “Two of the players will already be living in Argentina so it was the best place we could all gather to play a high level of polo and get them ready in weekly practice games and stick-and-ball sessions,” Arellano said. “They will be warming up for the high-goal Argentine season in September so it’s an ideal place, and hopefully playing on rented horses for a month will prepare us.” Players will then travel back to Wellington, Florida, and resume practice for the second half of October leading up to the XII FIP World Polo Championship. The opening ceremony for the XII FIP World Polo Championship will be held Saturday, October 29, with the first USA game of the tournament.
“I’m very excited that the championship is going to be contested on U.S. turf and I was chosen to coach the team,” Arellano shared. “It’s a little added pressure so hopefully we can represent the U.S. well and bring home the title.”
*Lucas Escobar, Hope Arellano and Nico Diaz Alberdi are members of Team USPA. Nico Escobar is a Graduating Team USPA Member. Jake Klentner, Jesse Bray and Mason Wroe are Team USPA alumni. Team USPA is a USPA program designed to enhance and grow the sport of polo in the United States by identifying young, talented American players and providing mentored training and playing opportunities leading to a pool of higher rated amateur and pro players and the resultant giveback to the sport of polo.
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