Team Red Wins Santa Rita Open PTF Season-Ender at IPC; Team White’s Wes Bryan Named MVP

Team White, Red and Blue accepting their team and individual trophies at the Santa Rita Open.

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 polo players.

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 a team.

“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 borrowed horses.

“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.


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


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 and Polo School at Grand Champions. Everyone is welcome to watch polo in a relaxed atmosphere during the spring and fall tournament seasons 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.

Sharon Robb for Phelps Media Group, Inc. International

Phelps Media Group, Inc.
12012 South Shore Blvd #105
Wellington, FL 33414
561-753-3389 (phone)
561-753-3386 (fax)

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