COURTESY OF THE MORNINGLINE
The creation of the Women’s Texas Open is another important milestone in U.S. women’s polo. It completes an effortby the USPA, dedicated clubs, anddetermined individuals, especially the late Sunny Hale, to create a total of four high goal women tournaments across the US. Houston deserves credit for establishing multiple flight tournaments years ago that eventually included the US Open Women’s Polo Championship in 2011.
The US Open Women’s Polo Championship was recently moved to Florida this year with a successful eight teams entered, hosted by the Port Mayaca Polo Club along with the International Polo Club Palm Beach finishing with a historic final held on Field One at IPC, partnered with Susan G. Komen Florida.
This summer, the Westchester Polo Club in Newport, Rhode Island hosted their second Women’s East Coast Open in June, and the Santa Barbara Polo Club hosted the Women’s Pacific Coast Open in September, followed by the Women’s Texas Open hosted by the Houston Polo Club along with their 2019 Houston Women’s Polo Championship that includes various flights of competition where 90 women participated. Houston Polo Club Manager, John Tasdemir reported that 60% of their club membership are female, and 40% are male. He said with a smile that he has hopes of hosting a men’s tournament soon.
Six teams entered the Women’s Texas Open with players from across the country and the world. It was great to see international players like Hazel Jackson, Sarah Wiseman, Lottie Lamacraft, Ina Lalor, Clara Casino, and Izzy Parsons return to Houston to compete, along with first time visitor to Houston, Milly Hine, from England. It was also great to see Gillian Johnston join team BTA with family sponsors KC and Chris Beal. Meghan Gracida traveled from Santa Ynez, California to play in her first high goal women’s tournament. Tiffany Busch returned to play for team PoloGear supported by Ridgeway Hemp, after time devoted to the Vero Beach Polo Club. Tiffany last visited Houston when she won the U.S. Open Women’s Polo Championship in 2012.
Another noteworthy development was seeing 20 goal team, Plank and Company bring their Women’s Pacific Coast Open winning team to compete in the Women’s Texas Open. One of the goals of creating more women’s tournaments of various levels is to encourage teams to remain together to participate in a circuit of tournaments nationally and internationally. These tournaments are presenting excellent opportunities for players like Cory Williams, Kendall Plank, Alison Poor, Audry Persano, and Alexis Ellison to continue to grow as players with more experienced players like Tiamo Hudspeth and Dayelle Fargey.
And, it offers young players and players of all ages an opportunity to experience women’s polo at its best. Madi Outhier, and Lilly Lacquerica played under the seasoned guidance of Sarah Wiseman and Clara Casino. And, Bridget Price and Grace Mudra were an excellent compliment to Hazel and Milly for team Rocking P. Florida based PoloGear has been very supportive of women’s polo since 2006 by offering women’s specific apparel and polo boots. This year, they sponsored a team in the Women’s Pacific Coast Open, and partnered with Ridgeway Hemp for the Women’s Texas Open.
Memo and Meghan Gracida linked the two companies together via polo, and combined forces with La Herradura and San Saba Polo to field a winning team with Meghan Gracida, Dawn Jones, Lottie Lamacraft, and Tiffany Busch. La Herradura mounted Meghan and Lottie, while San Saba mounted Dawn and Tiffany. Coaching was provided by Memo, Luis Echezarreta, and TL Jones. The team committed to disciplined marking, and team cohesiveness. Their collective determination, and overall camaraderie brought positive results. They occasionally struggled with their knock-in’s off the backline throughout the tournament, but eventually found the keys to adjust in the third chukker of the final. Tiffany played a solid #4 position patiently setting up plays, while Lottie covered their opponent’s best player, and offered Tiffany defensive protection. Meghan marked her designated player with a high rate of success and efficiency while pushing to goal, or clearing the decks for Dawn. She delivered a solid three goal handicap performance. Dawn did her best to stretch the field, pushing to goal as often as possible, and offering defensive assistance when needed. All combined, the team delivered a sampling of how women’s polo continues to improve.
Ultimately, all of the games from all six teams thoroughly demonstrated more sophisticated set plays, and further displayed the value of a balanced team, where each player plays their optimal position, and contributes
to best serve their team. The support and confidence from long time innovator, PoloGear is much appreciated, and has the potential to help open doors to more corporate sponsorship for women’s polo.