Polo Players Edition

JAN 2019

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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20 POLO P L A Y E R S E D I T I O N F IVE AMERICANS TRAVELED to Christchurch, New Zealand, Nov. 16-26, for a series of matches against three high school teams and culminated in an international test match against a New Zealand National team. It was sponsored by the PTF. Zak Coleman (Virginia and Arizona), Grace Grotnik (Massachusetts), Conner Jenkins (Hawaii), Johnny Kirton (Hawaii) and Taylor Palacios (New York) were selected from a pool of 21 applicants who had participated in at least one PTF program in the previous two years. Selections were based upon ambassadorial skills, ability to ride strange horses and lastly, overall polo skills. This group of players stood out in the first two categories, and it turned out they had an instant affinity for great teamwork, and because of that went undefeated in four games. Leaving the USA Nov. 16, and flying all night, four of the team arrived in Christchurch Nov. 18 (losing a day crossing the international dateline). They immediately went to watch polo where they met up with teammate Conner Jenkins, who is living in New Zealand, working polo for the Woods family and attending Christ College (a high school). Fortunately for the U.S. team, Conner wasn't enrolled yet at Christ College, so he was not able to play for it, and thus was eligible to play for the U.S. The next day, the team traveled to Hamner Springs Thermal Pools about two hours north of Christchurch. The outside temperature was in the 50s but the swimmers quickly warmed up in the natural hot springs. That night, back in Christchurch, the students attended a meet and greet at a museum and met their hosts and most of their opponents. The following day, students went to Emma Dormer's farm where they tried some of the horses they would play in the final test match. As it turned out, they also played these horses in one of the early matches. Plans to try horses at the Wood's family farm, were rained out so Charlie Wood, the oldest of Roddy Wood's (who managed the Guards Polo Club in England for 20 years) three professional polo-playing sons, gave the players a great chalk talk and helped them think about what their basic strategy would be. The first game against Christ College was played Nov. 21. Christ College included Rohan Tennekoon, who traveled to the USA with a team last September; Henry Batchelor; Ed Davidson, whose dad Willie organizes all the SUPA polo in New Zealand; and George Hutchinson. Starting out close, teamwork and great horses propelled USA to victory. Afterward, the Wood family hosted a barbecue. The next day, USA faced Zoe Reader from Rangi Ruru, Tom Turner and Bradley Pugh from St. Andrews and Sky Turner from St. Margarets. Once again, USA was well mounted and came away with another win. The next match had USA facing a mixed team that included Jenkins, Lachie Applebee, Winston Hutchinson and Lucy Grigg. This was the toughest game yet, but USA pulled it out at the last minute, 4-3. Following the match, Lachie's mom, Trudy, hosted a EXCHANGE STUDENTS American students compete in New Zealand Zak Coleman, Johnny Kirton, PTF Executive Director Danny Scheraga, Lucy Grigg, Conner Jenkins, Taylor Palacios and Grace Grotnik enjoy dinner in New Zealand. POLO TRAINING FOUNDATION New Zealand's Zoe Reader, Kaleb Watson, George Cronin, Henry Batchelor and Lachie Applebee and USA's Conner Jenkins, Zak Coleman, Taylor Palacios, Grace Grotnik and Johnny Kirton. USA won all four of its games, including this International Test Match. JANET SCHERAGA

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