“We had a good plan, a good team with chemistry and a good system.” – Bill Ballhaus
The 2021 Ylvisaker Cup has a brand new champion and the phrase “brand new” is incredibly fitting, as the Beverly Polo organization is a fresh face on the International Polo Club Palm Beach (Wellington, Florida) high-goal scene for the first time this year.
“This was huge for us, it’s the biggest final that we’ve won,” said Ballhaus. “This is something that we’ve been building towards for several years. Tolito Ocampo, Hilario Figueras and myself have been playing together for years, building up from 8-goal tournaments with my son last year in Virginia, to 12-goal tournaments here in Wellington [Florida] and this is something we’ve been aiming for.”
Jorge ‘Tolito’ Fernandez Ocampo Jr. played alongside Bill Ballhaus throughout the 18-goal season. ©David Lominska
In a very meaningful victory, Bill Ballhaus, the Beverly Polo team owner, played alongside Jorge “Tolito” Ocampo Fernández Jr., Hilario Figueras and Joaquín Panelo (who replaced Peke Gonzalez* in the final against Palm Beach Equine).
“We came to Palm Beach with the idea of competing, and getting to the final at this level, having a 16-goal team, is insane! And we won!” said Ocampo, Beverly Polo team captain. “Every match we played was very competitive. Playing with the team was great, we were always comfortable, and they are all great teammates.”
Bill Ballhaus focused on the ball during the 2021 Ylvisaker Cup with Beverly Polo. ©David Lominska
“We had a good plan, a good team with chemistry and a good system, several players who had to work their way through the system due to availability, injuries, etc., but with that plan in place we were able to pull it all together and we are very excited and delighted with the win,” said Ballhaus.
Bill Ballhaus’ future has two areas to focus on. After winning the 18-goal, the obvious question to ask him was about the next step up in handicap.
“One step at a time, we still have a 16-goal team and are going to play 16-goal tournaments for the rest of the season, we’ll see where we end up coming into next year, but I definitely plan to keep the organization together, keep progressing and building towards higher level tournaments,” he answered.
Bill Ballhaus lining up a shot in the 2021 Joe Barry Cup. ©David Lominska
“Our goal is to make Virginia the East Coast destination for polo.” – Bill Ballhaus
His other area of focus is the Virginia season. Ballhaus is one of the biggest advocates behind Virginia United Polo, one of the most consistently growing leagues in the U.S. “Polo in Virginia has been incredible, our goal is to make Virginia the East Coast destination for polo, and last year we had two dozen teams that played across multiple leagues, ranging from 6- to 12-goal tournaments, we hosted the USPA’s National Eight Goal last year, and this year we have three very prestigious USPA tournaments that we will be hosting, including the 12-Goal Eastern Challenge®, and I’m looking forward to having a very successful season in Virginia.”
Bill Ballhaus competing at the 18-goal level at the International Polo Club Palm Beach in Wellington, Florida. ©David Lominska
In regard to the Virginia season, Ocampo was very optimistic. “The Virginia season looks great,” he said. “We’ve had a couple meetings and things are on the right path, so we should be starting towards the end of May and we will play until the end of September.”
*Peke Gonzalez is an Active Team USPA Member. 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.