CLEARWATER, Fla, Sept. 13. The USA Water Polo (USWP) Executive Council awarded the bid for the 2003 U.S. Men's Open Championship to the University of South Florida. The host site will be the Long Center in Clearwater. The tournament will be held November 6-9, 2003.
This will be the first USWP Open Championship to be held in the Tampa Bay area. The Open Championship will be a 12 to 16 team tournament matching the 8 to 12 best U.S. Men's Club teams against up to four international teams. Potential international teams include the National Teams from Mexico, Puerto Rico, Brazil and Canada. The University of South Florida Men's Water Polo Club will be permitted to enter their squad.
"This is an opportunity of a lifetime for many of our players" said Coach Nick Popa. "It will be something none of us will ever forget."
According to Popa, The USA Water Polo Open Championship would best be compared to the golf's U.S. Open. "Very similar. We're bringing not only our nations best teams to Clearwater, but some of the worlds best squads too. Most of our Olympians and future Olympians will be playing with their local club teams here. It truly will be the 'best of the best'."
Competition will begin Thursday morning November 6th and continue until Sunday night November 9th. Games will be played all day Friday and Saturday, leading up to the Championship game Sunday afternoon.
The New York Athletic Club is the returning 2002 U.S. Open Champion. The New York Athletic Club beat Chino Hills (California) Area Water Polo in the tournament's championship game held in Dallas, Texas last year.
According to Popa, several individuals were a key part in bringing this Championship to the St. Petersburg/Clearwater Area. "The University of South Florida Water Polo Club would like to thank John Giantonio, Director of Sports with the St. Petersburg/Clearwater Area Convention and Visitors Bureau for helping make this bid a success. We'd also like to thank Jeff Heinz, Aquatics Director and Mark Abdo, Executive Director of the Long Center, as they both were key elements in reaching this goal."
Courtesy: USA Water Polo