The annual Coldwell Banker/Bali Hai Realty Challenge Tournament provided a fitting background for the 2003 season finale at the Kaua‘i Polo Club’s Anini Polo Field last Sunday. The Bali Hai team defeated Savage Pearls 8-4 in a thrilling 4-chukker match.
The field was lined with an international assemblage of enthusiastic spectators; and the backdrop was truly Hawaiian with sun, clouds, light breezes and, as announcer Inger Pa intoned, a couple of light touches of “Hawaiian blessing” during the game.
The match was off to a fast start when, in the opening minutes, Max Secunda took a knock in, took a couple of taps at the ball waiting for his teammates to line up, and, when nothing developed, blasted his way to goal about 60 yards away and tallied the first goal of the day for Savage Pearls.
But Bali Hai wasn’t to be denied. Krista Hawley cleared the toss in with a sweet shot to Ronnie Tongg. With true Tongg style and finesse he maneuvered through the pack to score for Bali Hai. Hawley and Secunda put up two more markers as a result of beautiful team play by their respective teams before the chukker ended. The spectators were abuzz with the fast-paced action.
As the second period got underway the underlying strategy of the two teams had become clear. The two heavy hitters, Tongg and Secunda, were playing the back positions, directing the attacks, and feeding the forwards as they became open.
John Elwin was playing his usually aggressive game, and Scott Sims and Peter Cameron were making impressive defensive plays.
In one series Tongg came away with the ball and sent it to Elwin. Sims moved in with hard bumping and riding off and the ball went into a corner. In a flurry of play Cameron managed to get control of the ball, center it, and lam it over the goal line for a goal.
The final seconds of the chukker had the fans on their feet cheering. Tongg got out in front with the ball. Sims came charging up and engaged him in strong riding off. Elwin came to support Tongg, and all three went around in a circle. It was Elwin who brilliantly took control and sent the ball between the pylons mere seconds before the horn sounded ending the period.
John Ferry of Coldwell Banker/Bali Hai Realty, who has supported and sponsored Kaua‘i Polo for 21 years, tossed in the ball to open the third chukker. Bali Hai, with superb leadership from Tongg, broke the tie score and moved ahead with goals by Elwin and himself. Elwin cleared a toss in and in an eye-popping play galloped down the field controlling the ball to score. Tongg fired off a looping shot to Hawley. When she couldn’t get to it he raced into the melee, captured the ball, and emerged through the pack to go to goal to score.
The play in the final chukker was unrelenting as four goals, the same as in the first chukker, were scored. Hawley, playing her number one position nicely, scored two goals: the first on a neat pass from Elwin; and the second late in the game when Tongg’s backhand shot positioned the ball to enable her to swoop in and strike the ball between the pylons. Sims was awarded for his alertness when Secunda cleared a toss in and sent him a shot which he converted to a goal. Tongg picked up a knock in from Secunda. In the flurry of play which developed, Tongg passed the ball to Elwin who charged over the goal line to score.
The winning team members were presented with orchid leis by Coldwell Banker/Bali Hai Realty, and their names will be engraved on a brass plaque to be added to the striking perpetual Bali Hai Trophy with the crossed polo mallets on the impressive koa piece.
Social members, players, and grooms lingered after the match enjoying pupu, beverages, and comradeship. There was more than a little nostalgia in the air as the 2003 season drew to a close.
Watch The Garden Island for news of the 2004 season.
Team members for Coldwell Banker/Bali Hai Realty: Krista Hawley, John Elwin, and Ronnie Tongg.
Savage Pearls members: Scott Sims, Peter Cameron, and Max Secunda.
Umpire was Kamalu Sheldon. Scorekeeper/timer was Jack Layton and announcer was Inger Pa.