The San Antonio Polo Club (SAPC) proudly reopened the sport of polo at the old Retama Polo Grounds in San Antonio, Texas, on a newly reconditioned field (former Field 11) by holding the Southwestern Circuit General George S. Patton Jr. Cup over Memorial Day weekend. After a semifinal round pitting Forty Flowers (Lara Semmelmann, Jessica Mignone, Jack Crea, Ronaldo “Ronni” Panzarini) against Real Life (Patrick Hensley, Wesley Alston, Patrick MacLeod/Georgia Stone, Sean Azzaro/Mike Azzaro*), and Shweiki Media (Ursula Lipari/Lauren Sterr, Trey Crea, Junior Gilberto Dominquez, Gal Shweiki) versus Hill Country Marines (Silas “Jeeper” Ragsdale, Mathew Linson, Hunter Hudson, Rowan Neidinger/William Askins), Forty Flowers and Shweiki Media won their way into the finals. Opening and closing strong in the four chukker contest Shweiki Media conquered Forty Flowers 6-3, despite a strong offensive push from the runners-up in the final chukker.
“As if returning to Retama to see Mike Azzaro sending the ball flying down the field again was not enough of a treat, getting a $2,500.00 USPA payoff for a tough win in a tough game was a rush most of us amateurs have never experienced. I’ve already bought a new bridle with my winnings and donated the rest to the club’s capital fund!” – SAPC Chairman and President Ursula Lipari
The Shweiki Media winning team received $2,500.00 prize money from the USPA, part of the Association’s COVID-19 USPA Polo Tournament Stimulus Package. “Winning this tournament is truly meaningful to those of us who played at Retama in the 1980s and 1990s, so we really appreciate the USPA making the debut of our refurbished field so special with this prize money,” said team captain Gal Shweiki. Robin Sanchez (USPA Governor-at-Large) and Patrick MacLeod served as umpires, with former Retama polo pro Mike Gutierrez, serving as Third Man. Most Valuable Player honors were awarded to Junior Gilberto Dominguez in the final and Georgia Stone in the consolation match. Best Playing Pony of the final was presented to Nugget, owned and ridden by Trey Crea.
Best Playing Pony was awarded to Nugget, owned and ridden by Trey Crea.
Retama Polo was once the gold standard worldwide for its many polo fields and excellent management by the late Steve Gose. The new regulation-sized field sits near the old Field 11 at the Real Life Amphitheater, which is operated by pastor Sean Azzaro, a participant in the General George S. Patton Jr. Cup. In fact, Sean Azzaro was part of the group of special guests and players from the premier days of Retama including Mike Azzaro, Jack Crea and William Askins, all of whom fondly remember those golden years at the club. The new field has been under construction by the San Antonio Polo Club for one year, largely due to the backing of the Rapier Family Foundation and Kym Rapier. “San Antonio Polo Club is very thankful to her [Kym Rapier] for believing in our vision, as well as for the partnership with the River City Community Church, that helps ensure polo continues at this historic site for many years to come,” SAPC Chairman and President Ursula Lipari concluded.
*In the semifinal match between Forty Flowers and Real Life, Sean Azzaro sat out a chukker due to heat exhaustion. His brother Mike Azzaro replaced him in order to continue play, however, due to the ineligibility of the substitution Real Life forfeited the game.
All photos courtesy of ©Susana Baird.