Polo Helmets and Picnic Baskets
"Well, you won't need those," Morgan Van Overbroek said, as I staggered into Polo Park Zürich 's clubhouse weighed down with raincoat, cap and big umbrella. "Trust me," she said, so I did.She was right. The rain held off for the final day of the 22nd International Ladies Polo Tournament on 4th July. Just as well, as Polo Park Zürich had a new concept for their spectators - reserved picnic spaces with baskets of delicious munchies, champagne and sun-umbrellas, combined with a general BYO picnic area for casual, spontaneous guests. There was to be a full day of polo with the finals of the Challenge League, followed by a spectacular competition for the winner of the Medium League.
The first game started at 11:00, with friends and family present to fire on Team Polo Park Zürich vs Team Kensington. Team Polo Park Zürich comprising of Belen Podesta, Isabelle Rösch, Annette Fetscherin, and Claudia Ide sharing with Lea Köchli, produced a composed performance, hammering in goal after goal to give them an impressive tally of 11 on the scoreboard.
Team Kensington with Ann-Kathrin Braendle, Katalin Siklasi and the sharing combinations of Katarina Donhauser, Alex Weiss, Simone Bollinger and Elizabeth Schoh needed to sharpen their game. They did just that with Katalin on a brilliant little pony, Jorgi, zipping through gaps and putting pressure on the opposition. Ann-Kathrin broke free in the 4th chukker for a couple of clever goals. Too late, however and Team Polo Park Zürich came in at third place.
Teams Hato and Jolies Filles were next up playing for overall winner. The sister combination of Sue-Ann and Shiva-Cosma Strub aided by Gunilla Mannsdorff and Marta Gabrin stated off brightly with a grand display of link-up play and continued their aggressive game to put 4 goals on the scoreboard. They were quicker, more direct and better organised than Team Hato, despite Anja Gutbrod hopping on her favourite pony,Baila, in the second chukker and driving the ball sharply towards goal, only to be constantly blocked by Jolies Filles's superior defence. Franziska Fuhrer enjoyed playing her 6 year old home breed, Mariposa, but she, with Lea Morel, Sibylle Grass, Nicole Boss and Kathrin Gralla completing Team Hato, could not find their playing rhythm. It was Jolies Filles who took the Challenge League Trophy.
Chilled Champagne and Competitive Fire
The picnic areas were filling up and the champagne glasses were clinking as the umpires called time for the start of the Medium League. The three teams had started their round-robin tournament on Saturday. Sunday was, therefore, a continuation of those games. We were in for some confident, fast-paced polo.
Team Estée Lauder had Laura Steinbach and Sammy-Joe Strub playing at Nrs. 1and 2, both putting in a mammoth effort in attack. Laura Fass was the player with the all-round vision at 3 and Ulrike Gabrin, usually an attacking player, was competently experimenting with a spell at defence.
However, it was the Team Perrier-Jöuet who snapped up second place.
Ann Meier battled hard, seizing the ball at every possible opportunity and powering down the field backed up by Aline Haerry. Kira Wetzel relentlessly wrestled openings for her Nr. 4 player, Polina Nazarova, to break through. Both players gave short displays of brilliance but were no match for the overall winner ,Team Clinique La Prairie, who used their first two chukkers to strengthen their position as tournament favourites. Beata Dudler, always a competent Nr.1, a constantly forward-orientated player, was able to combine well with Katja Grauweiler at Nr.2 to win line-outs and start attacking moves with real efficiency. Morgan Van Overbroek was pulling the strings at Nr.3 in a typically imposing fashion, ruthlessly exploiting any open spaces left by the opposition. Team Clinique La Prairie had Elena Venot as their Nr.4, a stand-out performer and highest handicapped player of the tournament at +6. There's no doubt that she's extremely talented, reading the game superbly and putting players into free spaces with the timing of her passes. We were offered a master-class in pace attack combined with the ability to remain calm under pressure. With this combination of experience and expertise, Team Clinique La Prairie took home the silver at 22nd International Ladies Tournament 2021.
Prizes all round
The prize-giving was held in front of the clubhouse with MVP of the Challenge League awarded to Belen Podesta and Elena Venot in the Medium League. BPP was Lebero, played by Elena Venot and owned by Sébastian Le Page.
The level and quality of play in women's polo is improving every year, and Polo Park Zürich is playing a major part in this providing women's tournaments, training and support.
Thank you, Polo Park Zürich
Photo credits: Click Polo and Guadalupe Aziaga