CrossFit/El Cid took up where it left off last season in the Women’s Polo Weekly League at Santa Rita Polo Farm. Last year’s season-finale winners opened the 2018 season with a thrilling 1-0 victory over Masai of Palm Beach Wednesday at Santa Rita Polo Farm.
The talented foursome of Nicole Watson, Malicia von Falkenhausen, Jennifer Williams and Cecilia Cochran defeated Masai of Palm Beach (Molly Houlton, Slaney O’Hanlon, Alina Carta, Malia Bryan, Anita Avendano), 1-0.
Nicole Watson was named Sanda Gane European Day Spa Most Valuable Player. Lychee, 13, owned and ridden by Cecilia Cochran, was the Masai of Palm Beach Best Playing Pony.
The first-of-its’ kind weekly women’s polo league in the world, was created by Carta, one of the sport’s pioneers, and USPA Florida Circuit Governor and Grand Champions Polo Club President Melissa Ganzi, also a top player who has competed around the world, most recently at the St. Moritz Snow Polo World Cup, where three years ago she made history as the first woman to compete in the all-male tournament.
“I’m so happy with this first month, it was a lot of fun and competitive,” Carta said. “It was great to start off January with two teams and we plan on having four teams next month. Everybody had fun. You don’t even have to think about it, you know that Wednesday morning you are going to play. I want to keep this simple and fun. We switched the teams around every week so everyone could play with each other.”
Women’s polo is the fastest growing sector in polo today and making progress throughout the world including the first Argentine Women’s Open held in November before the men’s match in Palermo. It was won by La Dolfina (Mia Cambiaso, Milagros Fernandez Araujo, Nina Clarkin, Candelaria Fernandez Araujo), 7-6 in overtime over Ellerstina (Clara Cassino, Hazel Jackson-Gaona, Lia Salvo, Sarah Wiseman). Candelaria Fernandez was the tournament’s first MVP.
“It’s fantastic and the level they played was amazing,” said Carta, one of the highest ranked women in the U.S. in the 1980s. “When I started playing there weren’t many women playing in Argentina, it’s great to see the sport grow there and around the world. It’s great to see so many girls play women’s polo.”
The February League will begin Wednesday, Feb. 7 with the final set for Feb. 28. The final is named the Sunset “Sunny” Hale Memorial Tournament in honor of the all-time greatest women’s player and visionary, Sunny Hale died in Norman, Okla. at age 48 due to complications from cancer.
“We all miss Sunny Hale, it was a huge loss for women’s polo,” Carta said.
Hale will be inducted posthumously into the Museum of Polo Hall of Fame on Feb. 16 for her remarkable achievements on and off the polo field. Hale was the first woman in polo history to win the 26-goal U.S. Open in an era when the sport was male-dominated. Tickets remain on sale.