Keeping Up With the Kordas…Sporting Success Par for the Course
Feature Story from ATPTour.com written by Andrew Eichenholz
When #NextGenATP American Sebastian Korda walks on Court 7 on Friday afternoon at Roland Garros for his third-round match against Pedro Martinez, his two biggest fans — sisters Jessica, 27 and Nelly, 22 — will be glued to their computer screens an ocean away in the United States.
The Korda Sisters, who are professional golfers on the LPGA Tour, are competing in a tournament this week in New Jersey. But that hasn’t stopped them from waking up as early as 5 a.m. to watch their 20-year-old brother play in Paris.
“The hardest part of all of this is we can’t be there,” Jessica said. “He can’t feel our excitement of points being won or hear our encouragement when we’re screaming at the TV or screaming at our computers.”
Jessica and Nelly believe it’s harder for them to watch their brother compete than it is to play themselves because they can’t control the outcome.
“When we go out and play it’s in our own hands,” Jessica said. “When we watch, we’re just watching, and we want to be there. We want to support, and we want to encourage him. But we can’t because we’re watching through a screen as well. It’s hard for sure.”
Sebastian, who is ‘Seb’ to his sisters and generally nicknamed ‘Sebi’, played his first two main draw matches first on his court on the schedule. But even though his sisters can’t physically be at his tournaments a large majority of the time because they are professional athletes, they are with him in spirit. Even if that has meant early-morning alarms.
“He’ll definitely come back to a lot of texts,” Nelly said. “No matter what, we’re usually the first ones to text him, even if it’s a bad day or if it’s a good day. Same with him for us.”
The World No. 213 began the week without a tour-level victory. But he has proven himself a strong competitor by qualifying for the main draw and reaching the third round. While no member of the family, especially Sebi, is focusing on anyone but Pedro Martinez, he could potentially face one of his idols in the fourth round: Rafael Nadal. To put in perspective how much Nadal means to Sebi, they have a cat named Rafa.
“Honestly I think he would be so excited on court,” Nelly said.
“He’d have the biggest smile on his face,” Jessica said. “For someone who doesn’t show a whole lot of emotion, I guarantee he’d have a smile on his face.”
Nelly added: “Or just before he would just be freaking out and be like, ‘Oh my God, this is so cool!’”
Jessica said: “As it would start he would be very intense and then after be like, ‘That was the coolest thing ever!’”
Korda has a fun side, too. After upsetting 21st seed John Isner in the second round, he made a swimming motion towards his team. Korda later posted on social media that he bet his team they would have to swim the length of the Charles Bridge in Prague if he qualified and made it to the third round.
“Once you get to know Seb, he is such a goofball,” Nelly said. “I would say Jess is the most outgoing of us three and Seb’s definitely the biggest goofball.”
“There were so many times when I would come home to a video or even times when I was in Bradenton visiting everyone that after tennis he wouldn’t take any of his clothes off, nothing. He would just walk straight into the back and just walk into the pool,” Jessica remembered. “Didn’t look left or right, he just fell into the water with all of his clothes on.
“Every single thing that he does is just so silly. He just makes it so much fun. When I was trying to skip rope and I was trying to do the double jumps, I was so proud of myself because I did eight or nine in a row and Seb sends me a video with like 100 of them and he’s like, ‘Beat that!’”
One of the toughest dilemmas for the Korda siblings is that because they are all professional athletes, they don’t often see each other. But during the COVID-19 pandemic, they were able to spend more time together. Nelly and Sebi live nearby, making it easier for them. Although Jessica lives on the opposite side of Florida, they still found time to visit each other.
“It’s awesome,” Sebi said. “We’re always in contact and we’re always talking about what we can do better and how we’re doing. They’re a big help and I love them a lot.
“This year in quarantine I saw my sister Nelly a lot and I saw my other sister, Jessica, a good amount as well. So it was nice to have everybody at home and [especially] because we don’t spend a lot of time together.”
Jessica and Nelly are two of the best golfers in the world, but Sebi was proud to tell the media that he beat one of them when they were younger.
“My only claim to fame is the only tournament I ever played I won and I beat [Nelly] when I was like 11 years old,” Sebi said. “[She] will never live that one down.”
“He beat me in one tournament we played… in Prague, Czech Republic when we were really young,” said Nelly, currently World No. 2. “But in terms of creativity and pulling off shots, he beats me by a mile. He is super talented when it comes to being creative and pulling off 60-yard hooks and landing it on the green, it’s crazy.”
“He’s definitely the most athletic Korda,” Jessica added. “I would say he’s more athletic than my dad as well.”
Their father is former World No. 2 Petr Korda, the 1998 Australian Open champion. Ironically, the Korda sisters both won the women’s golf Australian Open and Sebi triumphed in the Melbourne boys’ singles draw. But they all value their personal relationships over their athletic accolades.
“Our family has a very close connection and close ties. Their time is very precious when they’re together, so we let them be kids. [Even though they’re professional athletes], they still will be our kids,” Petr said. “They have daily conversations between them. If one of them isn’t doing well, they try to support each other. It’s an effort from all corners.”
Many people ask Sebi and his sisters about the pressure of being Petr Korda’s child. But they also note that their mother, Regina Kordova, was a professional tennis player who reached a career-high World No. 26. The Korda siblings simply focus on carving their own path. And above all, they stick together and support one another through their good times and bad.
“He’s making his own way in life and in tennis and unfortunately he’s always going to be compared to what our dad accomplished, mom being ranked really high as well,” Nelly said. “He’ll make his own way and it’ll be one step at a time, but we’ll always be there cheering him on.”
No bodychecking allowed in upcoming OHL season, says Ontario sport minister – CBC.ca
The Ontario Hockey League will not have bodychecking this coming season, according to Lisa MacLeod.
Ontario’s minister of sport said Friday afternoon in a speech delivered to the Empire Club of Canada that removing purposeful physical contact is a necessity for all sports in the province to slow the spread of COVID-19
“Not just in the OHL, not just in hockey in general, but in all sports,” said MacLeod. “We’re in a very serious game right now and the reality is we have to take those public health precautions.”
The OHL announced on Thursday that it plans to start a shortened season on Feb. 4, the last of Canada’s three major junior leagues to release a schedule.
WATCH | MacLeod says bodychecking barred from OHL:
The Quebec Major Junior Hockey League season started earlier this month, but the schedule has been affected by several COVID-19 outbreaks as well as provincial government restrictions. After play was restricted to Maritimes Division teams the past two weeks, some Quebec teams are scheduled to resume play this weekend.
MacLeod said the decision to ban bodychecking was influenced by the outbreaks in the QMJHL.
“I suspect [the OHL] will have to modify their play until there is a vaccine or at the very least public health clearance that we have contained the spread of COVID-19,” said MacLeod.
The MPP for Nepean said she normally has no problem with physical play in the sport, but the pandemic is an exceptional circumstance.
“I have done a lot of work on concussion awareness so I do take very seriously the safety but if done appropriately in regular times I wouldn’t,” MacLeod said.
MLB owners approve sale of Mets to Cohen – TSN
NEW YORK — The Wilpon family’s control of the New York Mets neared its end after 34 years when Major League Baseball owners voted Friday to approve the sale of the team to billionaire hedge fund manager Steve Cohen.
The vote was 26-4, a person familiar with the meeting told The Associated Press, speaking on condition of anonymity because the balloting was not announced. Cohen needed 75% approval.
The transfer from the Wilpon and Katz families values the franchise at between $2.4 billion and $2.45 billion, a record for a baseball team that tops the $2 billion sale of the Los Angeles Dodgers from Frank McCourt to Guggenheim Baseball Management in 2012. The Mets sale is likely to close within 10 days.
Cohen pledged to inject about $9.5 million in additional payments this off-season for pandemic-hit employees.
“I am humbled that MLB’s owners have approved me to be the next owner of the New York Mets,” Cohen said in a statement. “Owning a team is a great privilege and an awesome responsibility.”
An entity controlled by Cohen will own 95% of the franchise, and the Wilpon and Katz families will retain 5% of the team.
Former Mets general manager Sandy Alderson will return as team president.
“My family and I are lifelong Mets fans, so we’re really excited about this,” Cohen said. “With free agency starting Sunday night, we will be working towards a quick close.”
Cohen said all Mets employees, including unionized groundskeepers, security guards and engineers, will receive restored pre-pandemic salaries as of Sunday that reverse 5-30% salary cuts begun in March. He valued the restoration at over $7 million.
A seasonal relief fund will start Sunday and run through opening day for about 1,000 Citi Field employees of subcontractors that makes each eligible for $500 monthly, a commitment of about $2.5 million.
Cohen pledged to “dramatically increase” giving by the Mets Foundation and to prioritize not-for-profits and causes in the Citi Field area. He agreed to donate $17.5 million to programs developed by New York City to make grants to area small businesses through the New York City Economic Development Corporation.
Cohen made his announcement as New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said the city does not object to the sale. The city had the right to review the proposed transfer of the lease of Citi Field, the Mets’ home since 2009.
The current Mets ownership group is headed by Fred Wilpon, brother-in-law Saul Katz and Wilpon’s son, Jeff, the team’s chief operating officer. Fred Wilpon turns 84 on Nov. 22 and Katz is 81.
“We appreciate Fred’s decades of service to league committees and the governance of the game,” baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement. “Steve will bring his lifelong passion for the Mets to the stewardship of his hometown team, and he will be joined by highly respected baseball leadership as well. I believe that Steve will work hard to deliver a team in which Mets fans can take pride.”
The 64-year-old Cohen is CEO and president of Point72 Asset Management. He first bought an 8% limited partnership stake in the Mets in 2012 for $40 million.
“I know that Steve Cohen and his family share the same passion we’ve had for the Mets and for this city,” Fred Wilpon said in a statement. “Steve will continue, and will build upon, this organization’s longstanding commitment to the support of our community, and of those in need, which is especially important at this time. He shares the view that Saul, Jeff and I have long held, that ownership of the Mets is a public trust.”
The publisher Doubleday & Co. bought the Mets on Jan. 24, 1980, from the family of founding owner Joan Payson for $21.1 million, with the company owning 95% of the team and Wilpon controlling 5%.
When Doubleday & Co. was sold to Bertelsmann AG, the publisher sold its shares of the team on Nov. 14, 1986, for $80.75 million to Wilpon and Nelson Doubleday, who became 50-50 owners.
Wilpon and his Sterling Equities partners completed his buyout of Doubleday on Aug. 23, 2002, ending what had become an acrimonious partnership. Under the original appraisal, Doubleday would have received $137.9 million — half the team’s $391 million value after accounting for debt. Wilpon sued, and the sides then settled.
The Mets failed to win any titles under the Wilpons’ time of sole control and their final dozen years were hampered by financial losses from the Bernard Madoff Ponzi scheme.
“It has been a privilege and honour for our families to have been a part of this great franchise for the past 40 years,” Fred Wilpon said. “We would like to express our deep appreciation for our loyal and passionate fans, who have consistently supported this organization through the years. We’d also like to thank the many great players, managers, coaches and dedicated employees with whom we’ve been privileged to work with through the years.”
Cohen controlled SAC Capital Advisors, which in 2013 pleaded guilty to criminal fraud charges. SAC agreed to pay a $900 million fine and forfeit another $900 million to the federal government, though $616 million that SAC companies had already agreed to pay to settle parallel actions by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission was to be deducted from the $1.8 billion.
More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
Bodychecking in Ontario Hockey League banned to prevent spread of COVID-19 – ESPN
Ontario’s minister of sport said in a speech that the Ontario Hockey League will not have bodychecking this season.
Lisa MacLeod told the Empire Club of Canada that removing purposeful physical contact is a necessity for all sports in the province to slow the spread of COVID-19.
“Not just in the OHL, not just in hockey in general, but in all sports,” MacLeod said. “We’re in a very serious game right now and the reality is we have to take those public health precautions.”
The OHL announced Thursday that it plans to start a shortened season on Feb. 4, the last of Canada’s three major junior leagues to release a schedule.
“Until such time as we arrive at an agreed upon Return to Play protocol with the Government of Ontario, the League will have no further comment on the matter of body contact,” the OHL said in a statement.
The Quebec Major Junior Hockey League season started earlier this month, but the schedule has been affected by several COVID-19 outbreaks as well as provincial government restrictions.
After play was restricted to Maritimes Division teams the past two weeks, some Quebec teams are scheduled to resume play this weekend. The Western Hockey League plans to start its season on Jan. 8.
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