Huntington Beach, CA – May 13 – Five-time Olympian Tony Azevedo (Long Beach, CA/Stanford/NYAC) will play his final game for Team USA on June 11 at Stanford University at 3:30pm when the United States meets Croatia. Azevedo called Stanford’s Avery Aquatic Center home during his decorated collegiate career that saw four consecutive Cutino Award honors and two NCAA championships. It will be a fitting venue to send-off the longtime Team USA captain and 2008 Olympic silver medalist who is retiring from international competition. The match is part of a four-game series between Team USA and Croatia taking place June 9-14 in California.
Azevedo offered his thoughts on his retirement and the match on June 11:
“It’s crazy to think that after playing water polo for 27 years I am finally finished. I have often been asked how long I could go and my answer was the same: ‘When the time comes I will know.’ I still love this sport and will never leave the water polo community. But I’m ready to shift my focus from playing to working outside the pool to grow and innovate the sport in general. I am starting programs that I hope will take water polo to the next level. One thing I’ll miss most from my years as a player will be the team camaraderie. There is nothing better than the bonds and trust I’ve built with my various teammates.
I couldn’t be more excited to play my last game at Stanford, because during my four years at the University I was molded into the person/player I am today. I met my wife at Stanford, won four Cutino awards as a student, and made best friends for life on campus. To officially retire at Stanford is a dream scenario: with my Team USA boys, in front of USA fans, and playing against Croatia (I lived in Croatia for three years and my son was born there).
So, on June 11th I will walk away (for good I promise) from playing the game I love. It will be emotional because many of the USA fans watching have stuck with me over the years. They’ve traveled long distances to cheer me on at the Olympics, sometimes even dressing up as Tony Avocado, Tony ‘Bologny’, or wearing shirts with my name. Their support has been amazing.
Thank you everyone for your support year after year, and know that I am still dedicated to the sport we all love!”
“It’s hard to express the value and impact Tony has made on the sport of water polo. He has given us so many wonderful moments, performances and championships. It’s hard to imagine him not being in the USA lineup. Simply put, he is the best player to ever put on a USA or Stanford water polo cap. Having number 8 return to Stanford to play his last game just feels right,” said John Vargas, Stanford University Men’s Water Polo Head Coach and 2000 USA Men’s Olympic Team Head Coach.
Azevedo’s career leaves him as arguably the greatest men’s water polo player in USA Water Polo history. The all-time leading scorer in FINA World Championship history, Azevedo racked up five Pan-American Games gold medals, two FINA World League Super Final silver medals and was named Pac-12 Conference Men’s Water Polo Player of the Century. After his time at Stanford Azevedo embarked on a professional water polo career that saw him play with some of the top clubs in the world including: CAN Bissolati (Italy), J.K. Primorac (Montenegro), VK Jug Dubrovnik (Croatia), Fluminense (Brazil) and most recently Sesi (Brazil). Domestically he’s been an anchor for the New York Athletic Club, helping the team to multiple National Championships.
The match-up against Croatia, 2012 Olympic champions, will be the second contest in the four-game set. The action begins on June 9 at the Riverside Aquatics Complex at Riverside City College at 7pm, as a kick-off to the 2017 USA Water Polo Masters National Championship. Following the game at Stanford, the two teams return to Southern California for a meeting at Oaks Christian School in Thousand Oaks, CA on June 13 at 7pm. The series wraps the following night at Long Beach State in Long Beach, CA on June 14 at 7pm.
In addition to the match at Stanford, Azevedo will also be hosting a clinic alongside Team USA Head Coach Dejan Udovicic from12pm-1:30pm. Registration for this clinic is available at the ticket purchase link.
Tickets for all games are on sale now. To purchase tickets for the Tony Azevedo Retirement Game at Stanford University click here. To purchase tickets for any of the three Southern California games, please click here.
The four-game series serves a warm-up for the FINA World League Super Final taking place June 20-25 in Moscow, Russia. USA and Croatia will meet again to open competition at the FINA World Championship this July 17 in Budapest, Hungary.
About USA Water Polo
USA Water Polo, Inc., is the national governing body for water polo in America, overseeing our United States Olympic program as well as 20 different championship events annually, such as Junior Olympics and Masters National Championships. With more than 40,000 members, USAWP also is the sanctioning authority for more than 500 Member Clubs and more than 400 tournaments nationwide. USAWP is committed to the development of the sport throughout the U.S. It fosters grass-roots expansion of the sport, providing a national system of affiliated clubs, certified coaches, and officials.
Press release courtesy of USA Water Polo