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“I would never have imagined it”

Born in 1976, Lucas grew up in 25 de Mayo, a town in the province of Buenos Aires, Argentina, in his family’s estancia, El Rincón. His family transmitted him the love for polo and for horse breeding. Marcelo Monteverde, his uncle, is one of the world’s most successful polo coaches. And Lucas, with his long time polo career in the best teams, including his nowadays opponents, La Dolfina and Ellerstina, has won several Argentine Opens, the Veuve Clicquot Cowdray Park Gold Cup, Hurlingham Open, Golden Cup Deauville, and Gold Cup of Santa María Polo Cup in Sotogrande.

POLO+10: Tell us a bit about your background, how did you get involved into polo?
Lucas Monteverde: I was born in the fields. At home we always had horses so I have always loved them. In the beginning, I started playing with my uncles, and then I got into high handicap polo thanks to Gonzalo Pieres in Ellerstina, and then in 2000 I moved to Cañuelas with Lolo (Castagnola), and Adolfito (Cambiaso) and did all the Argentine Open campaign from 2005 to 2011 with La Dolfina, where I played for them in seven editions of the Open, winning four of them. After I went away from La Dolfina, I played for some time with Lolo and the Merlos brothers
(Sebastián and Agustín), and then I accepted Mariano Aguerre’s invitation to join Alegría before he was called to play in Ellerstina, so I joined Freddy (Mannix) and decided play with the team.

POLO+10: How did you reach the +10 handicap?
Lucas: I got to high goal polo thanks to Lolo Castagnola and Adolfito Cambiaso. I went to Cañuelas to play for La Dolfina. At La Dolfina I was playing at first with a 8 handicap, and then in 2007 I reached the 10 handicap by winning the Open again.

POLO+10: How does it feel to be ranked?
Lucas: I would never have imagined it when I was growing up. I would have never thought I was able to have the career I’ve been having. But this would have never been possible without all the people backing me up, and essentially, because of our horse organization.

POLO+10: We would like to know how it felt to reach the Argentine Open finals last year. We know it was a surprise for the spectators, but how did it feel as a player?
Lucas: To be honest, I had played in Alegría for a year with the Merlos brothers. Freddy (Mannix Sr.) decided to renovate the team with two young players, so Polito (Pieres) and Hilario (Ulloa) got in the team. I made all my career in polo playing as a 2, and Hilario was a 2 too, and Polito is 1. We are all forwards. I had never played as a 3, and at first organizing the team was a challenge. We would have never expected, that going through our own adjustments, we could reach such a great goal. We started playing a bit trying out the team organization, and surprisingly, we started winning. We were more astonished than everyone. So reaching the finals was a surprise beyond comparison to us, and a great joy.

POLO+10: Which are your favourite polo destinations outside Argentina?
Lucas: The US and UK are great to play in. There is great competition in both places. For some years, I have been playing in Dubai, and although it is still growing and needs further development, it is a great place to play, and of course, to stay.

POLO+10: How is your everyday training?
Lucas: I have my own coach in Cañuelas, and I travel with him everywhere. His name is Maximiliano Zapico, he is a personal trainer, and I met him because he was my son’s Taekwondo teacher. I am 36 years old, and if I don’t train all year round, I get injured easily. As polo is being played all year round, I need to make sure I get a proper training, so I travel with him, and work daily. A typical training day, when I’m not playing tournaments, starts after I drop my kids at school, we do one hour of physical training, and then in the afternoon I ride my horses or do stick and ball.

POLO+10: About your horses, how do you choose them?
Lucas: I have a basis of “confirmed mares” for the Open, that a polo player normally has. To that group of “confirmed mares” every year some are added, and we played with the new ones in Tortugas Open. Then you select the ones that have worked better, and with them and the already-confirmed mares, we go and play the Hurlingham and Argentine Open. That is how almost every player carries out the horse selection here in Argentina. Now I’m playing small tournaments with new mares, to already be selecting some of them for September.

POLO+10: Do you have a personal icon of the sport you look up to?
Lucas: After such a long career playing with the best players, we all see each other as equals. But I really admire Gonzalo Pieres Sr. and Adolfito Cambiaso, they have certainly changed the sport in the last 20 years.

POLO+10: Which are your hobbies besides polo, and how is your family?
Lucas: I’m married, my wife’s name is Loly Lopez who is always beside me, and I have three kids: Lucas, 8 years old, Luna, 5 and Lucero, 1 ½ years. I am lucky that we travel together everywhere, so I’m always feeling comfortable. Regarding hobbies, I really like working with horses, training, breeding and taming them, that is my main hobby and also job.

POLO+10: Lucas, thank you for the interview!

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