Wellington, FL- April 3, 2013- The eighth annual Women’s Championship Tournament, the only women’s polo event-of-its-kind in the world, gets underway Thursday with three playoff-matches at Grand Champions Polo Club.
Play-off matches will be held at 9 a.m., 10 a.m. and 11 a.m.
The women’s field for the 3-6 goal features defending champion Goose Creek and returning runner-up Prima.
Goose Creek will have a new lineup this year with 1-goaler Maureen Brennan, 1-goaler Alina Carta, 2-goaler Kristy Waters Outhier and 2-goaler Tiffany Busch.
Prima’s roster features 1-goaler Cecelia Cochran, 1-goaler Rachel Turner, 2T-goaler Lia Salvo and 1.5-goaler Karen Reese.
Four new teams, Morgan Stanley, Esque Pink, Coast to Coast and Team Cloud 9, are entered in the 0-2 goal tournament.
Morgan Stanley features -.5-goaler Katie Mitcham, -.5-goaler Jessica Rieman, 1.5-goaler Jolie Liston and 0-goaler Jennifer Williams.
Esque Pink’s roster is -1-goaler Coco Switlyk,.5-goaler Marissa Wells, 1-goaler Kelly Wells and 0-goaler Belinda Brody.
Coast to Coast’s lineup is 1-goaler Angela York, 0-goaler Madelyn Cobb, 1-goaler Maureen Brennan and a fourth player still to be announced.
Team Cloud 9 has -1-goaler Kirsten Braden, 0-goaler Laura Wilson, 1-goaler Megan Shader and 0-goaler Lauren Connors.
In last year’s 0-2 goal championship final, Speedwell defeated Oakley 8, 7-3. Busch, based in Vero Beach, was named Most Valuable Player.
Melissa Ganzi and her husband Marc, both competing in the 109th Maserati U.S. Open, will host the four-day event that showcases women’s polo.
In last year’s 3-6 goal final, WCT founder Sunny Hale and her Goose Creek team won last year’s 3-6 goal championship title with a 5-3 victory over Prima. Hale was named MVP after scoring five goals. Hale was joined by Julia Smith, Clarissa Echezaretta and Brennan on the winning team.
This year Hale has decided not to compete to devote time organizing the inaugural WCT Junior Invitational that will feature Riley Ganzi, Hope Arellano, Allie Azzaro, Tess Pimsner, Malia Bryan and Jaqui Casey.
Hale is the first woman in U.S. history to win the U.S. Open Polo Championship with Outback in 2000. The seven-time Player of the Year is the most decorated woman’s polo player. Her highest ranking has been five.
The growth of women’s polo is skyrocketing, spearheaded by the Women’s Championship Tournament series founded in 2005 to help consolidate women’s polo and promote high quality competition throughout the world.
A Women’s Tournament Committee was created to encourage and increase the participation of women in the USPA, polo’s national governing body, to improve the standard of women’s polo.
The WCT Finals perpetual trophy is on display at the Lake Worth-based National Museum of Polo and Hall of Fame. It was presented to the WCT from Bill Kraft of Catena USA.
On Wednesday night, the WCT’s opening kick-off party will be held at the National Museum of Polo and Hall of Fame in Lake Worth at 7 p.m.
After Thursday’s opening play-off matches, a WCT tailgate will be held during the 2 p.m. U.S. Open game featuring Audi and Valiente. Marc Ganzi is team captain of Audi.
On Saturday, the 0-2 goal consolation will be held at 9 a.m. followed by the 0-2 goal final at 10 a.m.; Junior WCT Invitational at 11 a.m. and 3-6 goal final at 12 noon.
Former 8-goaler Dale Smicklas, the honorary Commissioner of the WCT, will be at Saturday’s final. Smicklas played for Michelob, Black Bears and several other teams around the world before retiring. He is an avid supporter of women’s polo and the WCT since its inception in 2005.
GRAND CHAMPIONS POLO CLUB
WHERE: On the corner of South Shore Boulevard and Lake Worth Road, Wellington.
INFORMATION: There are great field side views for tournament action at the home base of pro teams Audi and Piaget. Everyone is welcome to watch polo in a relaxed atmosphere during the spring and fall tournament season and other special events including the International Cup in November, Buzz Welker Memorial Junior Tournament in March, Women’s Championship Tournament and Gay Polo League International Tournament, both in April