|George Haas Cup champions Fred Mannix, Nic Roldan, Lucas Lalor, Grant Ganzi of Audi. Photo by Scott Fisher|
WELLINGTON, FL-Feb. 24, 2014—Audi won its first polo tournament of the 2014 high goal polo season on Sunday at International Polo Club.
Audi, one of the winningest teams steeped in tradition, captured the George Haas Cup with an 11-9 victory over Faraway.
Audi (Grant Ganzi, Lucas Lalor, Nic Roldan, Fred Mannix) dominated most of the game against Faraway (Hutton Goodman, Martin Pepa, Santiago Chavanne, Mariano Gonzalez).
Audi took the lead (5-3) in the second chukker and never relinquished it for the remainder of the game.
Roldan was named Most Valuable Player after scoring eight goals and playing well on both ends of the field. Lalor and Mannix each scored one goal and the team picked up another goal on handicap.
|Most Valuable Player Nic Roldan of Audi. Photo by Scott Fisher|
“We stuck to our same routine, hitting the ball and playing the simplest possible, wide-open polo using all four players and it worked,” Roldan said. “We were very solid on defense. We didn’t give them any goals. We made them work for their goals. We stuck to the plan and had a blast.
“For me, I thought Lucas deserved MVP, he played amazing,” Roldan said. “A lot of people out there really don’t realize it, but when you are on the field, defensively he played amazing. He is a great player.”
The game also marked the 20-goal IPC tournament debut of Ganzi, 15, a sophomore at St. Andrew’s in Boca Raton. It was a memorable game for Ganzi, one of the youngest player-patrons in the U.S. to win a 20-goal tournament.
|Audi’s Grant Ganzi (1) defending Faraway’s Hutton Goodman (1).
Photo by Scott Fisher
“I woke up pretty early this morning,” said the third-generation polo player. “I was kind of nervous because this was my first 20-goal game at IPC. I didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t know how fast everything was going to be because I’ve never played anything like this in my life.
“I’m very happy. The team played well, my first cup at IPC, I can’t complain. It was a good win.”
Ganzi’s father Marc helped Audi qualify with a semifinal victory over Tonkawa. He sat out the final to enable his son, who regularly competes for Casablanca, to play in preparation for Friday’s Iglehart Cup opener.
|Team Audi with Marc and Melissa Ganzi, Fred Mannix Sr., Li-Anne Mannix, Fred Mannix and wife Kelsey and daughter Brooklyn.
Photo courtesy of Melissa Ganzi.
“It’s a great advantage being this young playing at this level,” Ganzi said. “I am playing with all these good players and they are great role models and telling me what to do on the field. It’s going to take me to the next level.
“Not every kid has this opportunity and I am very thankful,” Ganzi said. “Faraway played well. I don’t think they saw me as a patron, they saw me as a young player and treated me with respect and I appreciate that.”
His parents, Marc and Melissa, both avid polo players and owners of Grand Champions Polo Club, watched their son from the sidelines. His mom called the game “nervewracking.”
“My dad gave me advice before the game,” Ganzi said. “He told me what to do on knock-ins and to stay on the man, always hit backhanders and hit the ball once instead of so many touches.”
|Audi MVP Nic Roldan (3) drives downfield for one of this eight goals.
Photo by Scott Fisher
Veteran players Roldan and Mannix smiled at the thought of remembering when they were 15 and playing polo. Roldan was the youngest player to win the U.S. Open at 15.
“This is huge for Grant, he played great,” Roldan said. “He didn’t make any mistakes. He hit a couple of good balls and back shots. When you’re young you want to go out there and have fun and I think Grant did that.
“If you want to succeed in polo the only way is to start young and play good polo at the 16, 18, 20-goal level,” Roldan added. “The more polo these kids play the better they are going to improve.”
|Audi’s Fred Mannix (4) battles for ball possession. Photo by Scott Fisher|
Mannix was playing at El Dorado Polo Club when he was 15.
“They had an 18-goal tournament going on there and I was actually playing with Mariano Gonzalez, my good friend Daniel Roenisch and Graham Bray,” Mannix said. “I think I had three goals. We had an awesome team. I remember playing against some great players.
“Obviously, Grant is the new generation coming along,” Mannix said. “I thought he played awesome today. On the field he knows where to be, he’s got the good positioning. We are trying to help him more with the fundamentals of how to be more effective on the field, but he’s a natural. He picks it up with one suggestion, he knows what to do.”
Faraway staged a late rally in the fifth chukker but was turned away by Audi.
|Audi’s Fred Mannix (4) works the ball out of the air with Faraway’s Santiago Chavanne defending. Photo by Scott Fisher|
“This was fun,” Mannix said. “The team is good. We enjoy playing with one another. Nic is a great player, he is one of the best American players that we have seen in a long time. He plays with heart. He wants to win every game, he wants to win every practice and that’s contagious. Lucas played very well and Grant made a great debut here.”
For game recaps, news, features and photos of Grand Champions Polo Club-related events, go towww.grandchampionspoloclub.org.
Game video can also be seen at PoloNow Network at http://www.polonow.tv/.
2014 HIGH GOAL SEASON
FEBRUARY 21-MARCH 2: C.V. Whitney Cup- Wednesday, Semifinals, Orchard Hill vs. Crab Orchard 1 p.m., Valiente vs. Alegria, 3 p.m.; Thursday, Les Armour Cup, Semifinals, Audi vs. Coca-Cola, 10:30 a.m., Lechuza Caracas vs. Flight Options, 1 p.m.; MARCH 2, Les Armour Cup final, noon; Championship Final, 3 p.m.
FEBRUARY 28-MARCH 8: Iglehart Cup-Friday, CT Energia vs. Palm Beach Illustrated, 1 p.m.; Casablanca vs. Los Machitos/Heathcote, 3 p.m.; MARCH 5, Semifinals 1, 3 p.m.; MARCH 8, Final, 1 p.m.
MARCH 5-23: USPA Piaget Gold Cup
MARCH 26-APRIL 20: 110th Maserati U.S. Open Polo Championships
GRAND CHAMPIONS @ PALM BEACH POLO 2014 TOURNAMENT SCHEDULE (HOTLINE 561-373-0073)
FEBRUARY: Halo Polo Trophy (5 Goals); USPA Cyril R. Harrison Trophy; USPA Sieber Memorial Trophy.
MARCH: Madelon Bourdieu Memorial (5 goals); The Limited Edition 8-Goal Series; USPA Regional President’s Cup (8 goals); $50,000 National 12-Goal Tournament; The Top Pony 12-Goal Series; Santa Rita Abierto (16 goals).
APRIL: Las Acacias (5 goals); USPA Association Cup (8 goals); Museum of Polo & Hall of Fame Challenge Cup (12-goals); John T. Oxley Memorial Trophy (16 goals).
THIS WEEK’S SCHEDULE
TUESDAY: 8-goal, Tuff Riders/Tulum vs. TLC Development, Field 9, 3 p.m.
WEDNESDAY: 12-goal, Catamount vs. KIG, Field 10, 10 a.m.; Palm Beach Equine vs. Far Niente, Field 8, 3 p.m.; Enigma vs. Casablanca, at La Herradura Ecuador, 4 p.m.
THURSDAY: 5-goal, Aliano Realty vs. Elegante Polo/Tuff Riders, Cypress Field, 10 a.m.; Pony Express at Santa Clara, 4 p.m.
FRIDAY: 8-goal, Tonchala vs. Hawk Hill, at Las Palmas, 3 p.m.; 5-goal, Top Gun at Pony Express, 4 p.m.
SATURDAY: 5-goal, Halo Polo Trophy Final, Series B, Field 10, 10 a.m.; Halo Polo Trophy Final, Series A, 11:30 a.m.; 12-goal, USPA Sieber Memorial Trophy Handicap Final, Field 8, 1:30 p.m.; USPA Sieber Memorial Trophy Final, Field 2, 3 p.m.
SUNDAY: 8-goal, USPA Cyril Harrison Trophy Final, Cypress Field, 11 a.m.
GRAND CHAMPIONS POLO CLUB SCHEDULE (561-644-5050)
MARCH 9: Great Futures Celebrity Polo Match, 10 a.m., benefitting the Neil S. Hirsch Family Boys & Girls Club of Wellington.
MARCH 17: Buzz Welker Memorial Tournament
APRIL 4-5: Fifth annual Gay Polo League International Tournament
APRIL 8-12: Women’s Championship Tournament
GRAND CHAMPIONS POLO CLUB
WHERE: 13444 Southfields Road, on the corner of South Shore Boulevard and Lake Worth Road, Wellington, 33414.
INFORMATION: There are great field side views for tournament action at the home base of pro teams Audi and Flight Options. Everyone is welcome to watch high, medium and low goal polo in a relaxed atmosphere during the winter, spring and fall tournament season and other special events including International Cup in November, Buzz Welker Memorial Junior Tournament in March, ProKidz Tournaments in the spring and fall, Women’s Championship Tournament and Gay Polo League International Tournament, both in April.