LAKE NONA, FLORIDA | Being a golf parent is hard enough. You carry the snacks, stand in the sun, try not change facial expressions no matter how well or poor the outcome, and no matter what, you encourage your child for five, six, sometimes seven hours a day often followed by the shot-by-shot recap over dinner.
Parenting multiple athletes in differing sports requires something else altogether. You carpool, cheerlead, follow and support your kids in different time zones and days. Everyone understands that you can’t be two places at once, but that doesn’t soften the pangs that come with not being there for one child because you are with another. If you’ve had a son play baseball and a daughter play soccer, you know exactly what this is like.
But there’s another level to this parenting dilemma, one that few can imagine. It’s the feeling Olivia Manning often felt when her two kids were playing football in different cities on Sundays.
And it’s the feeling Petr and Regina Korda feel now.
On Sunday morning at the Hilton Grand Vacations Tournament of Champions, Petr marched out onto the range at about 10:30 to deliver his daughter, Nelly, a water bottle. He had his trusty tripod chair under his arm, a cup of tea in his hand, and appeared ready to walk the full 18 as Nelly prepared to tee off in the final group with Brooke Henderson and Nasa Hataoka.
But Petr had an added spring in his step and red in his eyes. That’s because the youngest Korda sibling, Sebastian, completed a 5-set win in the Australian Open tennis championship to advance to his first-ever Grand Slam quarterfinal.
The match against Poland’s Hebert Hurkacz was an emotional rollercoaster, one that began when Sebi entered Rod Lavor stadium and tapped his father’s name displayed in the hallway. Petr won the 1998 Australian Open and was ranked No.2 in the world, the same ranking Nelly now holds in golf. Regina reached as high as 23rd in the world before an injury sidelined her tennis career, and the oldest Korda child, Jessica, is a 6-time LPGA Tour winner whose career best to date was 8th in the Rolex Rankings.
On the range on Sunday, Petr was asked if he had gotten any sleep. “None,” he said, which was not surprising. The match went to a fifth-set, 10-point tie-break with Sebi winning on a down-the-line pass after a disciplined baseline rally.
Sebastian became just the third American man to advance to the Australian Open quarterfinals since Andy Roddick in 2010. And, according to those who should know, it won’t be his last appearance.
Warming up for the final round at Lake Nona Golf & Country Club, Mardy Fish, the former Olympic Silver Medalist in tennis who is leading the celebrity division of the HGV Tournament of Champions, said, “Sebi’s going to win multiple grand slams. Write it down. He’s only 22.”
Perhaps buoyed by her brother’s performance, Nelly unleashed a massive drive on the first tee on Sunday. She shot 72 and finished alone in fourth. "I woke up at like 2:00 a.m. when it was 1-1 in the tie-break," Nelly said. "I think I woke up because I just knew he was playing and when I saw the score I was like, 'Well, I can't go back to sleep now.' So, I turned it on the watched him win."
Sebastian plays again on Monday night (U.S. time) and Nelly said, "I'll be able to stay up and watch that one."