Polo Players Edition

OCT 2018

Polo Players' Edition is the official publication of the U.S. Polo Association. Dedicated to the sport of polo, it features player profiles, game strategy, horse care, playing tips, polo club news and tournament results.

Issue link: https://polo.epubxp.com/i/1029347

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Page 33 of 67

32 POLO P L A Y E R S E D I T I O N & Merchants Bank in the opening match of the Pacific Coast open and Lucchese got the edge over Klentner 10-8. After taking a first-round loss, Klentner had to win two of the next three games if it was to make the semifinal. Klentner treated their second game, against RH, basically as a quarter final. "We were super concerned about the second game because that was really pivotal. We couldn't go 0-2. We figured [a] 2-2 [record] put you into the semifinal so it was really important for us to win the second and third games," he said. "That meant the fourth game was not a game we had to go to the bottom of our horses. If we won it great, we would have been the first seed, but if we didn't, we were the second seed." It wasn't easy but Klentner edged RH 10-9 in a tough overtime match. It then defeated Farmers & Merchants Bank, 9-7, in its next outing. Meanwhile, FMB beat Sol de Agosto, 11-9, and RH defeated Lucchese 13-12. Sol de Agosto got a 12-11 overtime win over Lucchese, and RH slipped Sol de Agosto 10-9. The final round had Lucchese handing FMB its third loss, 13- 11. The last game, pitting Klentner against Sol de Agosto, was do or die for the latter. A loss would put FMB in the semis while a win would ensure its place. Sol de Agosto hung on for the 8-7 victory, knocking defending champion FMB out. RH, with a 3-1 record, took first place, while the remaining three teams tied at 2-2. A shoot-out was needed to determine semifinal placing. Klentner Ranch met Sol de Agosto again, this time for the semifinal. In the second chukker, Bray hit a neckshot that hit Klentner square in the hand. "I was looking the other direction, where the ball was going to go, when it hit me," Klentner said. After a brief timeout while paramedics looked at his hand, Klentner came back out on the field. His hand was swelling, but since he could move his fingers, he figured it wasn't broken. As the chukker went on, he was soon unable to lift his mallet. Alonzo Cruz was called to substitute, but since Klentner had started the chukker, Cruz would have to wait until the chukker ended. Klentner gamely came back out on the field sans a mallet. "I did what I could. I played defense and tried to clear the path for my players," Klentner explained. It seemed to work as the teams ended the chukker tied. "We were lucky," he said. Klentner watched the rest of the game from the sidelines, worrying about his hand and the thought of not being able to make the final. He says he tried to stay optimistic at that point. The teams battled back and forth and were tied again as time was winding down. With less than a minute remaining, Cruz jumped on a pass and slipped the game-winner through the posts. "I was just glad we were going to the final. Sports people, and especially polo players, tend to be superstitious. And so we needed to get back to the finals," Klentner said. When he finally had his hand checked out, Klentner was told it was broken. Though disappointed, he was happy that his son, Jake, would fit on the team. "Sponsors get hurt and then bring in a ringer 1-goal player who is really playing 3. My son is the same rating as I am and it being my son, was better," said Klentner. "We all know its the finals and that's great but you have to get to the finals and its the organization that gets to the finals. I was just happy for the Klentner Ranch organization to be there and for my son to be replacing me." It just so happened Klentner's sons, Jake and Luke, were in Colorado, competing in the National Youth Tournament Series Championship. The team won its first match and was headed to the final. Klentner had to pull Jake from the tournament to take his place. He said he felt bad until Joel Baker reminded him that the NYTS tournament was developed to get kids ready to play more competitive polo, just what Jake would be getting to do. Jake had substituted for Ben Soleimani on the RH team earlier in the season and he and his brother sometimes practice with the team so he was comfortable stepping in. Klentner explained, "For them to improve as polo players, you have to play better polo. The Argentine kids, we go down there and they are all playing 22- goal practices and our kids are struggling to play 4 goal. It is too much of a disadvantage when you get into better polo. I'm trying to give the boys the opportunity to play better polo so they can be better. "Joel Baker, Andy Busch, they were When Justin Klentner, left, broke his hand, his son, Jake, right, stepped in to take his place in the Pacific Coast Open final. Jake scored two goals in the winning effort. SHELLEY HEATLEY

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