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Memphis Polo: Dr. Atkinson Memorial Tournament


By Nancy Brannon

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On Sunday, September 29, 2019, Memphis Polo Club hosted the Dr. Edward Atkinson Memorial Tournament at their polo grounds on Stinson Road in Rossville, Tenn. The match started at 2:00 p.m. and proceeds benefitted the Memphis University School Annual Fund. Even though temperatures were in the mid 90s, there was a breeze from the south most of the afternoon to help moderate the heat.

The event was billed as “Tailgates and Tall Tales, with “snappy dress encouraged.” There were lovely ladies in decorative hats and fancy table spreads with delicious food all along the side lines.

This year marks Memphis Polo’s 65th year (founded in 1954).

Oscar Atkinson welcomed the crowd to the Dr. Edward Atkinson tournament, adding “that’s the last time I’ll call him Edward; he was Ed to all of us.”

The tournament pitted the Memphis Polo team against the Clear Lake team. Members were:
Memphis Polo:

#1) Casimir Van Der Bly / Elizabeth Duke
#2) Oscar Atkinson
#3) Fargason Erb / Pancho Lugano
#4) Alfredo Guerreño
Clear Lake:
#1) Midge Ellison
#2) Juanchi Lugano
#3) Jimmy Wetter
#4) Bayard Erb

The two teams were evenly matched, as action was often played close with great defense on both teams. Memphis Polo team was the first to score and then added another goal, leading the in first chukker. But Clear Lake was able to score twice to Memphis Polo’s third goal, leaving Memphis Polo still in the lead 3 to 2 by half time. Then it was time for the traditional stomping of the divots.  An added treat at half time was the parade of the Longreen Hounds with huntsman Susan Walker, MFH, her staff and a few members of the hunt field.

The second half got off to a rousing pace, with Clear Lake scoring a goal at the end of the fourth chukker to tie the score. Not to be outdone, Memphis Polo scored again in the fifth chukker on a penalty shot, leaving the score at 4 to 2 at the end of the fifth chukker. The pressure was on Clear Lake in the sixth and final chukker, and the team scored to bring the score to 4 to 3. But just before the horn ended the sixth chukker, Memphis Polo scored again. The final score was 5 to 3 with Memphis Polo taking the trophy.

The tournament is in memory of Dr. Edward Atkinson III, who passed away in 2018. He attended Memphis University School, Southern Methodist University, and graduated from the University of Texas medical school. After completing his residency, Edward co-founded Diagnostic Imaging, where he had a long career as a respected radiologist in the Memphis, Tenn. area. He was married to Margaret Erb, also of Memphis, for 34 years and the couple raised three children: Oscar, Margaret, and Sayle. The Atkinson and Erb families, including Edward’s daughter-in-law Jocelyn, are the foundation of Memphis Polo Club.

Coming up, join Memphis Polo Club and the Junior League of Memphis for a fundraiser event on October 6 at 1:30 p.m. at the polo grounds, 2650 Stinson Road in Rossville. There will be a most beautiful hat competition, a silent auction, and catered food and drink to enjoy. This annual fundraiser benefits the Junior League’s GROW program.

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