During the weekend of June 13, the Central Texas Polo Association (CTPA) hosted the Southwestern Circuit Amateur Cup, played over Saturday and Sunday on CTPA’s two fields at Two Wishes Polo Club in Lockhart, Texas. The tournament was broken into two flights, an A-flight (2-goal) with four teams and B-flight (beginner) with two teams. Participating in the A-flight were JD Polo (Zoe Lehmer, Trey Crea, Jack Crea, Javier Insua), Two Wishes (Tres de la Paz, Quequi Garcia, Mike Lancaster, Ariel Rodriguez), Kanthaka (Sylvia Kampshoff, Gal Shweiki, Jessica Mignone, Philipp Kampshoff), and Forty Flowers (Lara Semmelmann, Kerstie Allen, Chris Ballard, Roni Panzarini). In the B-flight the teams were JD Polo (Ahmed Elsherbiny, Katerina Kotova, Jose Velez, Taimur Zeb/Javier Insua) and Texas Yellow Jackets (Kitana St-Cyr, Dani Gibson, Ismael Vazquez, Agustin Arrayago).
Two Wishes’ Tres De la Paz on the ball with JD Polo’s Trey Crea reaching long for the hook.
The A-flight tournament was played with teams alternating chukkers due to the heat. Playing each other on Saturday in the first, third, fifth, and seventh chukkers were JD Polo (2 goals) and Two Wishes (1.5) and in the second, fourth, sixth and eighth chukkers were Kanthaka (1) and Forty Flowers (1.5).
“This adapted format was great for summer polo in central Texas. Early games with alternating chukkers beat the heat, allowing the ponies and players to rest, stay in good health, and play their best polo.” – Jessica Mignone
The game between JD Polo and Two Wishes was close throughout, both teams going scoreless in the first chukker. In the second, JD Polo scored two from the field and converted a Penalty 3, but Two Wishes matched them with three from the field. Both teams scored two goals in the third with each converting a penalty and securing one from the field. However, in the final chukker it was JD Polo who came out strong defensively, holding Two Wishes scoreless while putting a final goal between the posts to solidify the win 6-5.5.
Two Wishes’ Ariel Rodriguez sends the ball down the field.
The match between Kanthaka and Forty Flowers was not as tight. In the first chukker both teams scored a goal each, but Forty Flowers dominated for the remainder of the game scoring one in the second and two in the third to win 5-1.5. On Sunday, the format remained the same with alternating chukkers. Playing in the championship match were JD Polo and Forty Flowers, with Kanthaka and Two Wishes competing in the consolation match.
Kanthaka’s Philipp Kampshoff with a booming backshot.
The championship match started off with a bang for Forty Flowers with Panzarini scoring two goals in the first 59 seconds and Semmelmann closing out the chukker with a goal in the last three seconds. JD Polo charged out of the gates in the second with Trey Crea and Insua each scoring two goals. Starting the third chukker, JD Polo held onto the narrow lead 4-3.5. First to score was Forty Flowers’ Allen scoring within the first minute of the chukker which was quickly matched by JD Polo’s Insua. Forty Flowers was able to capitalize on miscues by JD Polo with Panzarini converting a Penalty 2 and 4. Coming out in the fourth, Forty Flowers had taken the lead 6.5-5. With play flowing both ways JD Polo took advantage of mistakes by Forty Flowers and converted a Penalty 2 and 3 to pull off the win by a half goal.
JD Polo’s Trey Crea and Forty Flowers’ Lara Semmelmann.
In the B-flight’s Saturday game the Texas Yellow Jackets dominated to claim the win 4-1. However, in their second matchup the game was much closer with the Texas Yellow Jackets scoring one in the first and second chukkers and JD Polo scoring one each in the third and fourth chukkers. Ultimately the Texas Yellow Jackets won the match with a better win-loss record.
“This tournament was the highlight of a very unique spring season. The players and their mounts came together from across the region to engage in friendly competition, all while adapting to and respecting COVID-19 safety guidelines. The tournament was a testament to the passion of the players, grooms, and spectators in central Texas, and bodes well for the resiliency of our sport.” – Christopher Ballard
Forty Flowers’ Chris Ballard on a flying pony.
After two competitive days JD Polo won the A-flight. Jack Crea and Javier Insua have played against each other for over ten years, but this was the first time they have played on the same team.
Trey Crea (JD Polo) was selected as the A-flight tournament Most Valuable Player. Best Playing Pony honors were presented to Roni Panzarini’s first and fourth chukker horse, Pixie, a 17-year-old off-the-track Thoroughbred owned by his daughter Kaela Panzarini. The A-flight Sportsmanship Award was earned by Two Wishes’ Ariel Rodriguez and he was presented with a full polo bridle and reins.
Best Playing Pony was awarded to Pixie, ridden by Roni Panzarini and owned by his daughter Kaela Panzarini.
B-flight honors were awarded to the Texas Yellow Jackets. Katerina Kotova (JD Polo) was named Most Valuable Player. Best Playing Pony honors were awarded to Torcasa, played by Dani Gibson and owned by Shawn Gibson. Jose Velez (JD Polo) received the Sportsmanship Award.
Best Playing Pony was awarded to Torcasa, ridden by Dani Gibson and owned by Shawn Gibson.
All photos courtesy of ©David Murrell.