Team White, Red and Blue accepting their team and individual trophies at the Santa Rita Open sponsored by Grand Champions Polo Club and Polo Training Foundation
Team Red Wins Santa Rita Open PTF Season-Ender At IPC; Team White's Wes Bryan
WELLINGTON, FL-April 20, 2013---With the final seconds of the championship final
winding down, Matias Gonzalez of Team Red reached out to shake Team Blue's Jonny
Lavin's hand after a well-played game by both teams despite the lopsided score.
The 14-year-old Gonzalez scored three goals to lead Team Red to a 5-0 shutout of
Team Blue Friday in the Polo Training Foundation's season-ending Santa Rita Open
at International Polo Club Palm Beach.
The Santa Rita Open, for youth players ages 16-21, and sponsored by Wellington-based
Grand Champions Polo Club, featured some of the nation's top up-and-coming youth
Gonzalez was joined on the winning team by teammates Trevor Niznik, Ayaan Quraeshi
and Chase Schwartz, the only girl competing in the tournament. Schwartz and Quraeshi
also scored goals.
"We knew we had a good team," Gonzalez said. "I think we all played excellent as
"These tournaments have been so valuable to me," said the Polo Park Middle School
eighth grader. "They teach me how to play with the ball, the man, everything. Now
I get to play up north in New York at the Hamptons."
The Blue Team was Anthony Devrient, Clemente Devrient, Grant Ganzi, son of Marc
and Melissa Ganzi, and Lavin, who replaced Juancito Bollini, who was unable to play
because of illness.
The White Team, which was eliminated after round robin play and rainbow rule (losing
to Team Red when Niznik hit the backline) was Enrique Barco, Liam Lott, Lorenzo
Merlotti and Bryan, who had to leave before receiving his MVP Award to return his
"We had the chemistry because we have all played before," said the 19-year-old Niznik.
"We all played really well together. I thought there was no doubt we could win if
we played up to our ability. We clicked very well."
It was Niznik's first youth tournament of the winter season. The 19-year-old has
been working with Victor Vargas' Lechuza Caracas. He plans to play in Houston and
Greenwich, Ct. this summer.
"These tournaments are so valuable, I have been playing them since I was little,"
Niznik said. "I grew up with Matt Coppola and Tommy Collingwood in these tournaments.
I am following in great footsteps. It's amazing we get to play on the same fields
at IPC as Lechuza did."
The Best Playing Pony award went to Aly, ridden by Merlotti in the third chukker.
The event is named after Melissa Ganzi's Ocala-based farm Santa Rita Farm which
was named after her grandmother, who passed away on Dec. 29, 2012. The Ganzis rest,
breed and train polo ponies at the farm.
Melissa Ganzi, recently-elected secretary-treasurer of the Polo Training Foundation,
presented the team and individual awards.
Two hours after the tournament, the PTF held its annual party for its Florida Junior
and Youth programs at the Mallet Grille.
In the Florida Junior award category, Gonzalez and Hope Arellano, daughter of 9-goaler
Julio Arellano, were named Most Improved Players. Riley Ganzi, daughter of Marc
and Melissa Ganzi, and Christian Weisz were named Sportsmanship Award winners.
Lavin was named the Florida Youth program's Most Improved Player and Matt Coppola
earned the Sportsmanship Award.
Team White, Red and Blue accepting their team and individual trophies at the Santa
Rita Open sponsored by Grand Champions Polo Club and Polo Training Foundation
GRAND CHAMPIONS SPRING SCHEDULE
April 19-21: Palm City Open
April 26-28: The Polo Gear Cup
May 3-5: USPA Spring Challenge
May 10-12: The USPA Sun Cup
May 17-19: USPA Eastern Challenge
May 24-27: The Memorial by Piaget
GRAND CHAMPIONS POLO CLUB
WHERE: On the corner of South Shore Boulevard and Lake Worth Road, Wellington.
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