• USPA East Coast Open

    8 Teams Prepping for 2016 USPA East Coast Open 


    By Darlene Ricker


    Eight teams—including several new entries—are revving up for this Sunday’s opening match of the USPA East Coast Open (ECO) at Greenwich Polo Club in Greenwich, Connecticut. The 20-goal tournament, which runs from August 28 to September 11, is the highest-rated tournament of the 2016 U.S. summer season. 


    Defending champions Audi Polo Team will be back, as will Airstream and 2015 finalist White Birch. New teams are Faraway Polo, Postage Stamp Farm, Tupungato and Goose Creek. Chris Brant, who competed last year, has also entered a new team, Beluga.


    “This is by far the most competitive East Coast Open in the last three years,” said Argentina’s Hilario Ulloa, who in January becomes one of the world’s handful of 10-goal players. He plays for White Birch, the home team that came excruciatingly close to victory in 2015. Audi took the win 14-13 in the first minute of overtime. 


    Nic Roldan, the highest-rated American player (8), scored the winning goal last year and is playing for Audi again. “Competing at Greenwich is always an uphill battle because White Birch is one of the best organizations in the U.S. Very seldom do they get beaten. Winning against them last year was huge,” said Roldan. He considers the East Coast Open one of the “most historical and important” tournaments. “As an American, it’s a tournament you always dream of winning.”


    Peter M. Brant, founder of Greenwich Polo Club and patron of the White Birch team, said,  “Last year's East Coast Open was a terrific event, and Audi ended up winning in overtime. The tournament was such a huge success in terms of the competitors and level of polo. This year we have eight solid teams playing and we expect the competition to be even more intense."


    Charlie Muldoon, executive director of the USPA’s Umpires LLC, concurred. “Every year the ECO draws more teams and is increasingly competitive. It’s great to see eight teams entered in 2016,” he said. Muldoon has officiated at the ECO for many years and played in the tournament at the height of its popularity in Boston. “Greenwich Polo Club has worked so hard in conjunction with the United States Polo Association to successfully bring the tournament back to the grandeur of its early years,” he said.


    The tournament was founded in 1978 at Myopia Polo Club in South Hamilton, Massachusetts, by Donald V. Little Sr., then vice president of the USPA, and was played exclusively at Myopia until the early 2000s. At its height 13 teams played in the tournament, including many 10-goal players.


    Muldoon anticipates a particularly exciting ECO this year, which marks the first time the tournament will be played under the new international rules. Implemented in January, the rules have been widely acclaimed for revolutionizing the sport and making it more exciting. It encourages fast play and open, classic polo, which challenges players and thrills spectators. 


    “Everyone looks forward to the East Coast Open,” said Roldan. “Greenwich has three great fields, the early autumn weather is spectacular and the parties are really fun.” He added that Greenwich is helping preserve the sport by hosting the ECO and numerous other matches throughout the summer. 


    This year’s ECO, presented in partnership with Audi of America and its 29 Tri-State Audi Dealers, is expected to draw more than 10,000 spectators. Public games will take place on three consecutive Sundays: August 28, September 4 and the final on September 11. The USPA will live stream all ECO tournament games on ChukkerTV.com, with schedules and updates on uspolo.org. On September 17 NBC Sports Network will broadcast the final and related programming at 3 p.m. Eastern time.


    Tickets for the East Coast Open are available at www.greenwichpoloclub.com/eco/tickets/. Gates open at 1 p.m. and matches start at 3 p.m. The field is located at 1 Hurlingham Drive, Greenwich, Connecticut 06831.


    Team Rosters 

    White Birch (20) 

    Santino Magrini 1

    Hilario Ulloa 9

    Mariano Aguerre 9

    Peter Brant 1 


    Goose Creek (20) 

    Maureen Brennan 1

    Marcos Garcia del Rio 4

    Tomas Garcia del Rio 8

    Mariano Gonzalez 7 


    Faraway Farm (19-20) 

    Hutton Goodman A 

    Bo Goodman 1

    Inaki Laprida 7

    Julian Daniels 6

    Pelon Escapite 6 


    Beluga (17) 

    Chris Brant A

    Nick Manifold 5

    Fran Elizalde 7

    Tommy Biddle 5 


    Audi Polo Team (20) 

    Marc Ganzi 1

    Nic Roldan 8

    Sebastian Merlos 9

    Leo Mandelbaum 2


    Airstream (20) 

    Agustin Bottaro 0

    Guille Aguero 6

    Matias Magrini 8

    Kris Kampsen 6 


    Postage Stamp Farm (19) 

    Annabelle Gundlach A

    Salva Ulloa 7

    Brandon Phillips 5 

    Joao Paulo Ganon 7 


    Tupungato (19) 

    Luis Rinaldini A

    Santi Torres 7 

    Naco Taverna 6 

    Gaston Lisioli 6