For young American players having the opportunity to play in Argentina can be life changing, an opportunity which can propel their careers forward with blazing speed. There are a few American players residing in Argentina right now including Jesse Bray* and Jared Zenni* who are playing in some of the Argentine Polo Association’s tournaments. Also, brothers Lucas* and Nico Escobar* are staying at La Aguada Polo Club, which belongs to the Novillo Astrada family. They will play a few tournaments and enjoy intensive polo training especially around former 10-goaler and international champion Miguel Novillo Astrada.
“I came to Argentina to play the best polo possible and to improve my game by playing with some of the best players like the Novillo Astradas and the Toccalinos,” Harrison told CLICKPOLOUSA. The son of former 10-goaler Mike Azzaro, Harrison Azzaro’s dreams are set as he seeks to improve his game and reach the same handicap. “My dream is to reach 10 goals and to win the Argentine Open with my brother,” Azzaro shared. For now, he is focused on playing tournaments and learning more about the game. “In 2017 I played in the 20-goal Sterling Cup alongside one of the best players in the world, Gonzalito Pieres,” Azzaro said. “For me this was my favorite tournament. I also played in the Copa Estimulo here in Argentina.” To achieve his goals Azzaro is working hard and learning everything he can while in Argentina.
Azzaro has a great teacher in his father Mike. Holding a 10 goal handicap for many years and 9 goals in Argentina, Mike Azzaro played at a high level with La Mariana, a well-renowned team with brothers Sebastian and Juan Ignacio Merlos, and Milo Fernandez Araujo. “My father introduced me to the sport of polo and my whole life I have watched him play and I grew up playing since before I can remember,” Azzaro said. “My father was an amazing player and he taught me to have a good work ethic. He told me it is always good to surround yourself with the best players and the best polo. He grew up with the Gracidas and I am trying to do the same with the Tocalinos and the Astradas.”
Inspired by what he father was able to achieve at the height of his career, Azzaro is striving to not only do the same, but exceed the standard set for him. “I think that with the right opportunities and work ethic I will be better than my father because I can see the things he did well and learn from his mistakes,” Azzaro said. “But with his help, I believe I can be better than him.”
Jesse Bray and Jared Zenni are both playing in the qualification tournament of the Copa Cámara De Diputados, one of the most prestigious tournaments of the Argentine spring season. Bray is playing for La Cañada alongside Facundo Obregon, Facundo Cruz Llosa and Constancio Caset. In the first match, his team defeated Martindale (Segundo Fernández Llorente, Nicolás Recaite, Facundo Retamar Carnero, Juan Cruz Lozada) 11-4. “I am very happy to be playing here,” Bray commented. “This is the kind of polo I need to be playing to keep improving in my career.” Now his team will challenge La Ensenada-Betania (Juan Calafell, Manuel Calafell, Felipe Márquez, Raul Laplacette) for a place in the Copa Cámara De Diputados.
In the other bracket, Zenni is competing for La Irenita. His teammates are Horacio Fernández Llorente, Gonzalo Deltour and Miguel del Carril. In the first match, they lost against El Overo – UAE 10-7, but then defeated Trenque Lauquen Elipse 9-5. In the last match, they will play against La Madrugada Pilarchico (Juan José Bouquet, Simón Prado, Alejo Aramburu, Manuel Crespo).
*Lucas and Nico Escobar are Team USPA members. Jesse Bray and Jared Zenni are graduating members of Team USPA. Team USPA is a USPA program designed to enhance and grow the sport of polo in the United States by identifying young, talented American players and providing mentored training and playing opportunities leading to a pool of higher rated amateur and pro players and the resultant giveback to the sport of polo.