Sunday, Sept. 1 was the final round of the inaugural United States Polo Association National Youth Tournament Series, which culminated in the Zone 3 team from Florida winning the Cecil Smith Cup by defeating the team from Zone 2 by a score of 9-4.
The finals, played at the Virginia International Polo Club in Upperville, Va., were the culmination of several months of intense tournament play.
The winning players — Justin Daniels, Juan Bollini, Wesley Finlayson and Grant Ganzi — are all from the Wellington area. Daniels hails from the International Polo Club Palm Beach, Ganzi and Bollini are from the Grand Champions Polo Club, and Finlayson is from the Port Mayaca Polo Club.
The final match was an intensely competitive one. In the first chukker, Finlayson and Daniels scored two goals together against Zone 2’s one, scoring again in the second chukker for a 3-1 lead. The Zone 2 team scored another goal in the third chukker, but Finlayson and Daniels both scored two goals again for a whopping four goals, which upended any possible upset.
Even though both teams scored two goals in the final chukker, the match was set, and Zone 3 was the nationwide winner. Finlayson was named the Most Valuable Player and Daniels’ mare, Lolita, won Best Playing Pony.
“On behalf of the entire membership of U.S. Polo, I would like to congratulate the Zone 3 team on its victory in the inaugural United States Polo Association Youth Tournament,” said Chrys Beal, the USPA’s Junior Polo committee chair.
At the semifinals on Saturday, Aug. 31, Zone 3 defeated Zone 4, while Zone 2 defeated Zone 1. The Zone 4 team won the third place match, 6-4.
In an effort to help expand the sport among youth in the U.S., the junior polo program’s mission is to cultivate and promote junior polo throughout the United States by providing the organizational structure to support junior polo clinics, tournaments and international competition.
Junior polo has seen a great deal of recent growth by partnering with the U.S. Pony Club and other youth equestrian organizations to develop new polo-playing members of the association.
The U.S. Polo Association was organized and exists for the purposes of promoting the game of polo, coordinating the activities of its member clubs and registered players, arranging and supervising polo tournaments, competitions and games, and providing rules, handicaps and conditions for tournaments, competitions and games, including the safety and welfare of participants and mounts.
For additional information, visit www.uspolo.org.
ABOVE: The victorious Zone 3 team of Justin Daniels, Grant Ganzi, Juan Bollini and Wesley Finlayson.