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Park Place Makes World Polo League Debut Sunday In Founders Cup Opener; Adolfo Cambiaso Returns

WELLINGTON, Fla., February 24, 2024--Park Place will make its 26-goal World Polo League debut Sunday at Grand Champions Polo Club.


By Sharon Robb

Photos by Candace Ferreira


The reigning U.S. Open champion will compete on Opening Day of the Founders Cup, the season's second WPL tournament. Park Place will play Travieso at 12:30 p.m. in the second game of a doubleheader. In the opener at 10 a.m., Senvest plays La Irenita.



Three members of last year's Park Place team will compete. They are 10-goaler Hilario Ulloa, 9-goaler Juan Britos and patron Andrey Borodin. The fourth player is 6-goaler Joaquin Panelo making Park Place a 25-goal team.


In last year's U.S. Open, held over two days because of a rain postponement, Park Place defeated Valiente (Bob Jornayvaz/Rufino Merlos, Peke Gonzalez, Adolfo Cambiaso, Agustin Nero), 12-11, for American polo’s most coveted title. Park Place finished 5-0 and denied Cambiaso his 10th U.S. Open title.



It was Ulloa's fourth U.S. Open title (2010, 2014, 2018, 2023). Ulloa scored a game-high 10 goals including the game-winner with 40 seconds left and made a defensive stop of a Cambiaso game-tying goal in the final seconds. Ulloa is in the midst of playing with Park Place for seven years, including six in the U.S.


Cambiaso, the greatest player of all time, returns to the WPL after a three-year absence. Cambiaso first made his WPL debut in 2019 when the league was first created. Cambiaso will play on Maltese Falcons along with Melissa Ganzi, 9-goaler Juan Martin Zubia and 7-goaler Alejandro Novillo Astrada.



Cambiaso, 48, was first rated 10 goals at age 19. Born in Canuelas, Argentina, Cambiaso is ranked at 10 goals in Argentina, United Kingdom and United States. Since then he has won prestigious tournaments all over the world.


Cambiaso has won 18 Argentine Opens, 14 Hurlingham Opens, nine Tortugas Opens, nine U.S. Opens and eight British Opens. In 2000 he founded La Dolfina, which turned into a legendary team. In December, he made a little more history with his U.S. snow polo debut at the Aspen Valley Polo Club competing in the St. Regis World Snow Polo Championship.



Nine teams will compete in the double- elimination tournament. Everyone plays the other two teams in their brackets. The teams will then be ranked 1-9 based on win-loss first, then net goals and then gross goals to determine who the top four teams are to advance into the semifinals. First plays fourth and second plays third.


Sponsors and rosters are:


BRACKET 1: 

Audi (26): Marc Ganzi, 1, Jeta Castagnola, 10, Nic Roldan, 8, Pancho Bensadon, 7.

La Irenita (25): Gilberto Sayao, 0, Gonzalito Pieres, 9, Pablo MacDonough, 10, Tomacho Pieres, 6.

Senvest (22): Rob/Richard Mashaal, 0, Facundo Llosa, 7, Magoo Laprida, 8, Pedro Falabella, 7.


BRACKET 2:

Kaia Polo (22): Larry Austin, 0, Lerin Zubiaurre, 7, Mariano Aguerre, 7, Santi Toccalino, 8.

Casablanca (26): Grant Ganzi, 3, Rufino Bensadon, 8, Sapo Caset, 9, Hilario Figueras, 6.

Alegria (25): Tincho Merlos, 7, Sugar Erskine, 6, Jason Crowder, 5, Fred Mannix, 7).


BRACKET 3:

Park Place (25): Andrey Borodin, 0, Joaquin Panelo, 6, Juan Britos, 9, Hilario Ulloa, 10.

Maltese Falcons (26): Melissa Ganzi, 0, Alejandro Novillo Astrada, 7, Adolfo Cambiaso, 10, Juan Martin Zubia, 9.

Travieso (26): Tony Calle, 3, Pipe Vercellino, 7, Martin Jauregui, 6, Juan Martin Nero, 10.



In last year's Founders Cup final, Audi won the battle of unbeatens to defend its title. After dominating most of the game, Audi (Marc Ganzi, 1, Jeta Castagnola, 10, Nic Roldan, 8, Fred Mannix, 7) needed an overtime chukker to defeat Richard Mille (Patricio Mayor, 0, Gonzalito Pieres, 9, Lucas James, 7, Pablo MacDonough, 10) 14-13. Jeta Castagnola was named Most Valuable Player. Audi finished the eight-team tournament undefeated with a 5-0 record.


The WPL, the winter season's biggest highlight, continues to make history as the only 26-goal polo played outside of Argentina.

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