Santa Barbara Polo & Racquet Club’s (Carpinteria, California) season has been growing with every passing year. They increasingly have more teams, which is very important, but also higher-quality players. A great example of this growth is 7-goaler Iñaki Laprida, a top international player who’s played in the Argentine Open at Palermo several times. He’s been playing at clubs in California for years, and has become one of the stars of the club’s season. “This is the fourth year I’m playing in Santa Barbara with BenSoleimani.com,” Laprida said. “I played for two years with Danny and Matt Walker and Lucas Criado.” Joining Laprida on Bensoleimani’s 16-goal roster are Ben Soleimani, Tomas Alberdi* and Santiago Wulff.
BenSoleimani.com’s Iñaki Laprida preparing a swing on the nearside.
How do you feel about Santa Barbara after playing so many years there?
“It’s an amazing destination, you never get tired of it, I could easily live here. Not only because of the beach and the nice weather, but the level of polo is also really great. The fields are really good, the weather is great, there are good teams, and it’s always competitive. I love it.”
How has the 2021 season been?
“The season has been good thus far, we’ve played 12-goal tournaments for a couple of months now and they were all fun. We had a short break and played practices, and now the 16-goal season just started with the Robert Skene Trophy. There were eight teams in the 12-goal and the 16-goal will have six, with another six playing the 8-goal. The action here doesn’t stop!”
Iñaki Laprida, a top international player has become one of the regular players at Santa Barbara Polo & Racquet Club.
Are you one of the most famous players at Santa Barbara yet?
“No! There’s probably no one more famous here than Santi Trotz, he’s always going to be the face of the club. However, there is a fun group of players here and we all get along.”
What do you think of American polo?
“American polo has been great in so many places, especially this year, with polo played throughout the country. The thing about America is that the country is so big, that everyone is further away than in Europe, which makes it more difficult to gather a lot of people in the same club. However, there are some places like Santa Barbara [California], Greenwich [Connecticut], the Hamptons [New York], Kentucky, Aiken [South Carolina], Wellington [Florida] and Houston and Dallas [Texas], where there is a lot of polo. There’s a ton of polo to be played.”
The first USPA tournament of the 16-goal season, the Silver Cup®, will begin Friday, July 23, and conclude with the final on Sunday, August 8. All games will be livestreamed on Global Polo TV.
*Tomas Alberdi is a Team USPA Alumni. 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.
All photos courtesy of ©David Lominska.