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November 20, 2012

Team USA Men's Roster Announced For Nov. 25 International Cup Doubleheader

With a talented all-star lineup, the U.S. men's team will be the favorite when they challenge England for the coveted International Cup.

The United States Polo Association, national governing body for polo in the U.S., announced its men's lineup for the International Polo Cup doubleheader pitting England against Team USA, Sunday, November 25th at Grand Champions Polo Club in Wellington.

The 20-goal championship game features some of the top players from England and the U.S. in the United States Polo Association and Hurlingham Polo Association-sanctioned international tournament.

Nic Roldan, rated at 8 goals; Jeff Hall, 7 goals; Carlos Gracida, Jr., 3 goals; and player-padron Marc Ganzi, 1 goal. The U.S. will field a 19-goal rated team.

Roldan, 29, was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina and is a third generation polo player. He grew up on Wellington's polo fields where he started to ride at age 3. His father, Raul, played polo for the sultan of Brunei and grandfather played before him.

Roldan also models part-time and makes television appearances as one of the sport's leading spokesmen and plays in several charity events around the world when not competing at a high level.

Roldan turned pro at 14 and won the 1998 U.S. Open Polo Championship at 15. He was named polo's Young Player of the Year when he was 16 before graduating from Cardinal Newman High School.

"That was an amazing experience," said Roldan referring to his U.S. Open victory as a teenager. "It really determined and made my decision on what I wanted to do in life."

Hall is one of the best players in the world and one of only a handful of top-rated American players. He started riding horses at age 4 and playing at 7. His major title wins include the U.S. Open, Joe Barry Memorial, Iglehart Cup, America's Cup, USPA Silver Cup, Ylvisaker Cup and CV Whitney Cup.  The multi-MVP has played in every major tournament in the U.S. and Argentina including the Argentine Open.  

"I thought I had the talent to be 10 goals since the beginning," Hall said. "I still think 10 goals is in my reach in the next couple of years."

Hall is currently competing with Melissa Ganzi on Piaget in the USPA National 20-Goal Championship Tournament at Grand Champions.

Ganzi and his wife Melissa have been some of the biggest supporters of polo as players, sponsors and owners of the Grand Champions Club. Marc Ganzi, the CEO of Global Tower Partners and polo captain for Audi Polo, is one of the most talented patrons in the game.

Ganzi and Audi have been to the finals of the U.S. Open three times in the last four years winning in 2009. He is currently competing in the USPA National 20-Goal Championship Tournament that concludes on Sunday, Nov. 18 with the final at 3 p.m. at Grand Champions

Gracida, Jr., was born into polo and is continuing his family's legacy. He is the son of Hall of Famer and former 10-goaler Carlos Gracida and nephew of Memo Gracida, also a Hall of famer and 10-goaler.

At age 15, he made it to the semifinals of the U.S. Open and also placed third in the World Cup competing for Mexico. At 20, the American Heritage Delray Beach graduate is one of the youngest players in the International Cup.

The men's players for England are Jack Richardson, ranked at 4 goals; Max Routledge, 5 goals; Tom Morley, 6; and Richard Le Poer, 5.

A women's seven-goal game at 1 p.m., featuring some of the top women's players in the world, is the first game of the U.S.-England polo doubleheader.

The U.S. team is headed by veteran Sunny Hale, rated at 3 goals, regarded as the top women's player in the nation, and a fan favorite. Hale will be joined by Gillian Johnston, 1.5 goal; Tiffany Busch, 1.5 goal; and Melissa Ganzi, 0-goal, co-host of the holiday event weekend along with her husband.

The women's roster for England is Hazel Jackson, Sarah Wiseman and Claire Donnelly, all rated at 1 goals and team captain Nina Vestey Clarkin, rated at 4 goals and regarded as the world's top women's player.

Melissa Ganzi, board member and vice president of the Board of Directors for the museum, said all proceeds will benefit the National Museum of Polo and Hall of Fame in Lake Worth and its expansion plans for a new annex.