Polo Players Edition

DEC 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.

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34 POLO P L A Y E R S E D I T I O N The Woman's International Polo Network aims to be a one-stop source for women's polo. It will offer a calendar of worldwide events, player profiles, lists of female umpires and certified instructors, news and other resources. The idea came about last year during the Women's Argentine Open when polo player Dawn Jones spent some time with USPA Women's Committee chair Erica Gandomcar-Sachs, discussing women's polo. Jones also had discussions with La Dolfina coach Milo Fernandez Araujo, whose two daughters won the inaugural Women's Argentine Open. "We all came to the conclusion that there really wasn't a comprehensive calendar available for worldwide women's tournaments to understand who is doing what, when," explained Jones. "[USPA Executive Committee member] Maureen Brennan had also sent out a letter to clubs last year encouraging them to create a schedule to build a women's circuit, particularly in the United States." At Gandomcar-Sachs' request, Jones sought out advice and feedback on ideas for having a comprehensive way of organizing women's polo, including having player profiles, a global calendar and ways to connect with others around the world. In the meantime, Jones, at the urging of friend and teammate Clarissa Echezarreta, hosted fast practices at a polo facility in Wellington, Florida. The purpose was to offer them as a learning tool for young women wishing to play in England or Argentina so they would have a better understanding of the speed experienced in women's polo in those countries. "I spoke with a lot of different women that play polo at the higher levels ... and different organizations that host women's polo, like Melissa Ganzi with her Santa Rita League she and Alina Carta host," Jones said. After the practices at her field, Jones would take the time to ask the 16-18 players about women's polo, including what they felt worked, what didn't work, what they'd like to see improve and what benefit, if any, they saw in having the fast practices. In the U.S., women's polo is the fastest growing segment of the sport, and it is being seen at every level. This past summer, two of the four patrons in the East Coast Open were women. According to Jones, women's polo has become more professional with the level of horses being used at the highest quality and the competition becoming more intense. Sunny Hale, who was 5 goals in mixed polo, obtained the highest rating of any woman in the U.S. to date. Only one other player, Claire Tomlinson in Britain, reached that rating worldwide. Prior to her death from cancer in 2017, Hale was a promoter of women's polo, creating the WCT championship series, authoring instructional books on polo, giving polo clinics around the world and in 2014, developing the women's handicaps in the U.S. The WCT helped increase the level of women's polo and largely jump-started professional women's polo. Women's handicaps were important, particularly in the U.S., because there was too much compression between minus-2 goalers and 2 goalers with a vast difference in abilities between those handicaps, said Jones. "There are some players listed at 1 goal in mixed polo, but they have never really played women's polo. In women's polo, everybody has got to work," explained Jones. "You can go from 8-goal mixed polo to 16-goal women's polo and it is night and day in the amount of effort, exertion and athletic ability you have to demonstrate and implement to play the game." The Argentine Polo Association, created separate women's handicaps in 2012 and has hosted more and more top women's tournaments in the past few Connected Network brings together women worldwide by Gwen Rizzo T he Women's International Polo Network launches its website this month, providing a central location for women around the world to access detailed tournament and player information.

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