Article courtesy of Grand Champions Polo Club/Sharon Robb
The United States has assembled an impressive lineup of both experienced and up-and-coming players for the International Cup Saturday, November 24, at Grand Champions Polo Club in Wellington, Florida. The United States team is led by 6-goaler Jeff Blake and will be joined by father and son Marc and Grant Ganzi* and Juancito Bollini, who will represent the U.S. for the first time since becoming a U.S. citizen two weeks ago.
The 14-goal U.S. team will face the 13-goal Azerbaijan team for the first time in international play in the seventh annual game at 3:00pm ET., part of a doubleheader that also features the Carlos Gracida Legends of Polo Memorial at 1:00pm. Gates will open at 12:30pm. Blake has won the U.S. Open Polo Championship® three times, twice with Tim Gannon’s Outback Polo Team in 1996 and 1999 and in 2008 with Crab Orchard consisting of Nachi Heguy, Adolfo Cambiaso, team owner George Rawlings and Hall, who was named Most Valuable Player. He also won the USPA Gold Cup® in 1998, 1999 and 2003.
Marc Ganzi, one of the world’s top-rated amateurs at 2-goals, has won or competed in every major polo tournament including the Westchester Cup. Winnin the U.S. Open Polo Championship® in 2009, Marc Ganzi is also a co-founder of the 26-goal World Polo League which makes its debut during the 2019 winter season at Grand Champions Polo Club and Valiente Polo Farm in Wellington, Florida.
Grant Ganzi, at 20 years old is the youngest member of the team and a third generation polo player following in the footsteps of his grandfather Wally and parents Melissa and Marc Ganzi. He is a member of Team USPA and rated 2-goals. A junior at Lynn University, Ganzi will be making his third consecutive appearance in the International Cup. He was recently named Most Valuable Player of the Bentley Scottsdale Polo Championship playing in front of a record crowd of more than 14,000. Last season he was a member of the winning U.S. team against Brazil, who captured the sixth annual International Cup 9-7.
Bollini is U.S. Polo Assn.’s Brand Ambassador and the second youngest player on the team at 22. He was a 2015 East Coast Open champion with Audi at age 19 and played in last year’s U.S. Open for U.S. Polo Assn. Son of former 8-goal player Juan Bollini, Juancito Bollini is rated at 4 goals. He has played every level of polo. In 2013, he played for Audi during the 20- and 26-goal seasons as a substitute for team captain and owner Marc Ganzi. He is a two-time national champion and was Most Valuable Player in the 2014 USPA National Youth Tournament Series.
The American team will put its six-year winning streak on the line against Azerbaijan, one of the most improved polo teams in the world. Recently, Azerbaijan finished runner-up to Italy in the FIP European Championship. Since 2012 in front of sellout crowds and worldwide ChukkerTV audience, Team USA has defeated England, Chile, Mexico, South Africa, Uruguay and Brazil for the coveted cup.
The Azerbaijan team features 5-goal player Andres (LaLa) Laplacette, one of the team’s most recognizable players who competed at Grand Champions last year. Joining him is Laplacette’s cousin Adrian Laplacette at 6 goals; Elcin Jamalli at 2 goals and Amil Namazov who is rated an A. Tarlan Gurbanaliyev and Rashad Hasanov are reserves. All players are members of Azerbaijan’s military.
Tickets ranging from $20 to $1,500 and various sponsorships are still available. For tickets, tailgates and sponsorships call 561-644-5050.
$1,500 VIP Sponsor: Includes one reserved table for eight in the VIP tent, corporate partner signage and parking.
$250 GrandChampions Tailgate Package: Includes a reserved tailgate spot with parking for one car, a tent and one table with 4 chairs.
$200 VIP Pavilion Tickets: Includes one VIP admission ticket to the VIP tent with a field side view of the game. Enjoy specialty cocktails and food. There is also an early bird VIP Pavilion package available at $150.
$20 General Admission. Field side parking not included.
*Grant Ganzi is a member of Team USPA. Team USPA is a USPA program designed to enhance and grow the sport of polo in the United States by identifying young, talented American players and providing mentored training and playing opportunities leading to a pool of higher rated amateur and pro players and the resultant giveback to the sport of polo.