Dawn Jones will lead the Santa María de Lobos team in the 2018 Women’s Argentine Open. The San Saba team owner will play for the second time in a row but with a different line up than last year. And explains her goals not only as player but as a female polo promoter. “My primary goal is to try to be a better team player while simplifying basic strategies of play. I have reached a point in my life in polo that I fully understand what a privilege it is to play the game, and we should all be grateful for the opportunity. The time I’m here in Argentina coincides with the launch of the Women’s International Polo Network Website, a nonprofit innovative concept my colleagues and I have collaborated to custom build as way to connect women polo players and clubs from around the world. It will connect, inform, and educate women polo players and the community. I’m also looking forward to attending my first Federation of International Polo [FIP] meeting in Buenos Aires as the U.S. representative for the FIP Women’s Committee. I’m eager to assist FIP, and provide them my perspective as a female player,” she said to CLICKPOLOUSA.

How did you organize your team this year?
“The process of organizing the Santa María de Lobos squad developed over the course of the last eight months. My close friend and teammate, Clarissa Echezarreta decided to step down from the Open team to play 18- to 22-goal polo and below and encouraged me to continue with new teammates. I approached 6-goal player Courtney Asdourian, an excellent 3 or 4, and Paige McCabe, an excellent 1 or 2, to join me in Argentina, given they had already expressed interest in building their own team for the Open. I have been actively working to connect women from around the world, so inviting Kenyan players like Izzy Parsons or Tiva Gross on the team would be an extension of this endeavor as was the 2017 U.S. Open Women’s Polo Championship™ team with Lia Salvo of Argentina, Sarah Wiseman of the United Kingdom, and the young up-and-coming American player Hope Arellano. As much as I was honored to play with all Americans as team Santa Maria de Lobos in 2017, I think it’s equally important to play with players from other countries as another valuable option.

What about horses?
“Luis Echezarreta, the San Saba Polo manager, Guillermo Caset, the Santa María de Lobos Polo coach, and Francisco Bilbao, Paige McCabe’s polo manager combined their resources to search for great horses.”

What did you learn from last year’s experience in the first Argentina’s Open?
“I learned that the Argentine Open had instantly raised the bar for the best women’s polo in the world. All other women’s polo in the world was suddenly inspired to follow. The level of play was remarkably skillful and speedy. The quality of the horses was like nothing else I had witnessed in women’s polo. The professionalism to organize the teams, the tournament, the media promotion, and the corporate sponsorship devoted to the tournament was nearly as impressive as the men’s Argentine Open. The livestreaming broadcast by ESPN, and the amount of press publicity spoke volumes about women’s polo finally being seriously recognized.”

Dawn Jones in action during the 2017 Women's Argentine Open. ©Sebastian Lezica
Dawn Jones in action during the 2017 Women’s Argentine Open. ©Sebastian Lezica

Do you have any suggestions to improve the competition?
“In my humble opinion, I think it would be worth considering a handicap applied in the future, for at least a few years, to even the playing field for lower handicap teams—to make the games more interesting, and open up opportunities to other players who have the potential to reach the higher handicap skill levels as time passes. I’m sure traditionalists will reject my suggestion, but exposure to this level of play will help other women reach a higher handicap thereby creating more teams for a sustainable Open. There are many talented women players like Hope Arellano, Mía Novillo Astrada, and Mili Sánchez who are just beginning to emerge in larger numbers with plenty of room to grow.”

2018 WOMEN’S ARGENTINE OPEN

For the second year in a row, the best lady players in the world will bring the Women’s Argentine Open to life, between Monday, December 3 and Saturday, December 15, with four teams between 23 and 32 goals of women’s handicaps, and the best ladies from Argentina, the United States, the United Kingdom and Kenya playing. The participants will include Santa Maria de Lobos with its trio of Americans, plus the two finalists of last year: La Dolfina Brava (the reigning champion, with 10-goaler Nina Clarkin) and El Overo Z/UAE (Ellerstina’s new organization). The tournament will have a round-robin for the first stage in the Argentine Association of Polo’s venue in Pilar, on the outskirts of Buenos Aires. Both teams with the best performance will face off in Palermo before the men’s Argentina Open final, like last year.

El Overo Z/UAE (32): Clara Cassino (7), Hazel Jackson-Gaona (9), Lia Salvo (9), Sarah Wiseman (7).

La Dolfina Brava (31): Mia Cambiaso (6), Milagros Fernandez Araujo (7), Nina Clarkin (10), Candelaria Fernandez Araujo (8).

Santa Maria de Lobos (24): Dawn Jones (6), Paige McCabe (6), Tiva Gross (6), Courtney Asdourian (6).

Alegria (23): Lottie Lamacraft (6), Annabel McNaught-Davis (6), Emma Tomlinson Wood (5), Tamara Fox (6).

 ©Kaylee Wroe Photography