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How Cisco is helping power Nelly Korda and the LPGA

Nelly Korda, at the AIG Women’s Open in August, has four titles on the LPGA Tour this year. (Warren Little/R&A via Getty Images)

Not even Nelly Korda predicted the year she would have on the golf course.

After COVID-19 forced the suspension of part of the 2020 season, Korda has doubled her wins on the LPGA Tour in 2021, claimed her first major title at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship and won a gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics. The 23-year-old enters the Solheim Cup this weekend ranked No. 1 in the world after the most dominant season on tour of any women’s golfer.

Cisco has been following Korda’s career ascent with pride.

The technology company partners with Korda and eight other golfers across the PGA, LPGA and APGA Tours, creating one of the most diverse rosters of athlete brand ambassadors in golf. When Cisco signed Korda along with older sister Jessica Korda and Danielle Kang in January 2020, she was coming off of a few titles and her first top-10 ranking, but the company couldn’t have known how quickly she would rise.

The reputation Korda has built since then is what makes her an ideal representative of Cisco’s mission in golf. Through their involvement in the sport, Cisco is committed to creating more visibility for women’s golf and ultimately inspiring the next generation of female golfers.

“The last 18 months have truly been a whirlwind,” Korda said. “Obviously when I partnered with Cisco at the beginning of last year, no one could have imagined what would come with the Tour being suspended and the world really coming to a halt.

“But to come out of such an uncertain time playing the best golf of my career, and to win my first major championship, become World No. 1 and win an Olympic gold medal all in the last few months is more than I ever could have dreamed.”

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Cisco first began working with the United States Golf Association (USGA) in the fall of 2018 as its Official Technology Partner. As the company’s investment in the sport grew, so did its interest in supporting promising golfers who are primed to succeed on the course and share the company’s values and corporate purpose to power a more inclusive future for all.

Less than two years after entering the sport, Cisco signed the Kordas and Kang as their first female ambassadors — and have watched them turn into three of the most successful golfers on the LPGA Tour.

Kang, 28, has been a staple on the LPGA Tour since 2011, accumulating five wins and a Women’s LPGA Championship. In 2020, Kang won the Vare Trophy, awarded to the golfer with the lowest scoring average on tour that year. She backed up that performance with seven top-10 finishes in 2021 and currently ranks eighth on the tour.

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Danielle Kang won two LPGA titles in 2020, adding to her career haul. (Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

Before Nelly Korda rose up the professional golf ranks, her sister Jessica Korda was already making a name for herself. Now 28, Jessica joined the LPGA Tour at 17 years old and has won six LPGA titles, including the tour opener in January. With four top-10 finishes so far this year, she currently ranks 18th in the world.

In addition to their success on tour, all three golfers want to help grow the game for women, and they appreciate how Cisco is helping realize that vision.

“They’re incredible individuals who we are so proud to have represent our brand,” Christina Leong, Cisco’s Global Sports Sponsorships Manager, told Just Women’s Sports. “They share a commitment and a vision for growing the game and inspiring this new up-and-coming generation of golf fans and players through our innovation and technology.

“And that’s just as important to us, if not more so, than how they play on the course.”

Leong stressed Cisco’s vision that people of all ages, genders and ethnicities see themselves reflected in the game of golf, regardless of their background.

That goal goes hand-in-hand with Cisco’s commitment to bring the game of golf to more people through innovations and technology, which became especially important throughout the pandemic.

“COVID definitely made us get creative but also really allowed us to make lemonade out of lemons,” Leong said. “In such a challenging environment, technology became an even more crucial component in connecting fans, players and media.”

That meant, for example, that players still had a piece of their family with them as they teed off at the 2020 U.S. Women’s Open, thanks to video messages recorded via Webex by Cisco, the industry-leading video collaboration solution.

When fans were barred from attending tournaments in person last year because of COVID-19, Cisco brought them as close to the action as possible with a virtual grandstand to mimic the feeling of being on the course. Cisco and the USGA also worked together to create a virtual media center that used Webex to conduct pre-tournament and post-round video interviews at both the men’s and women’s Opens.

This year, Cisco and the USGA brought one of their most unique innovations to the golf course, 4DReplay, which allowed golfers and fans to view a player’s swing at 360 degrees. With 88 cameras set up in a ring around the tee box, the video captured enough footage that it could be paused at 34 different points in the motion. Not only could NBC show the technology on their broadcasts, adding to their analysis of players’ swings, but fans could watch the clips on demand through the USGA app.

The response was universally positive, with many golfers pushing 4D clips on their social media accounts.

Ahead of this year’s championship, Cisco also used a mobile cart powered by Webex to surprise young golfers with virtual clinics from San Francisco to San Diego. Golf personality Tisha Alyn hosted the events and Cisco’s PGA and LPGA ambassadors assisted in the sessions.

“We are trying to tap into that next generation, having the kids meet some of their favorite players,” Leong said. “And they then got these virtual autograph sessions that were hosted on the Webex mobile cart during the actual U.S. Women’s Open and U.S. Open.”

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Through all of the trials of the past year, Cisco has remained committed to creating a level playing field for the men’s and women’s games.

“Cisco’s purpose as a company is to power an inclusive future,” Leong said. “That means creating equal opportunities for the women’s game and empowering diverse groups of people to participate in the game of golf.”

Earlier this year, Cisco’s sponsorship of the inaugural Billy Horschel APGA Tour Invitational, which featured some of the most promising minority golfers, included a roundtable and seminars aimed at opening doors for players who may not have had those opportunities otherwise.

“We just want to make sure that all genders, all ethnicities, ages and backgrounds are well represented,” Leong said. “The more diverse people and backgrounds that we can attract, and the more types of people that are represented, it will ultimately inspire and drive participation and hopefully spark more innovation in the game.”

As Cisco levels up its technology every year, treating the men’s and women’s tournaments equally will continue to be at the forefront of what they do.

“This last year, the women’s event looked almost the exact same as the men’s, if not better,” Leong said. “I think it’s just continuing to really push the envelope and ensure that whatever is going to happen at the men’s events with technology, it’s going to happen at the women’s, too.”

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Jessica Korda has ranked in the top 30 of golfers on tour for the past eight years. (Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)

Cisco’s commitment to the women’s game, from the inception of the partnership to now, has not gone unnoticed by those on the LPGA Tour.

“It has been so great to be a part of Team Cisco alongside so many other talented golfers,” Jessica Korda said. “Cisco’s commitment to using their technology to grow the game and inspire a new generation of golf fans and players is something that is really important to me as well, and I look forward to continuing to build on that goal together in the future.”

“It’s really so meaningful when companies like Cisco step up in such a big way to support our sport,” Kang said. “You see a lot of brands that spend money on the men’s side, but Cisco makes it a priority to support the LPGA Tour.

“Support like that is really important to us as players, and I truly believe that it helps to inspire even more participation in the sport from the next generation of female golfers.”

Editor’s note: Cisco is a sponsor of Just Women’s Sports.

Clark, Martin Square Off in First Pro WNBA Matchup

Kate Martin #20 of the Las Vegas Aces and Caitlin Clark #22 of the Indiana Fever look on during the game
Things looked a little different Saturday night as the former Iowa teammates went head-to-head in Las Vegas. (Jeff Bottari/NBAE via Getty Images)

Former Iowa teammates Caitlin Clark and Kate Martin shared the court once again on Saturday, this time as professionals.

It was Martin’s Aces that got the 99-80 win over Clark’s Fever in Las Vegas. The pair's former coaches Lisa Bluder, Jan Jensen, Jenni Fitzgerald, and Raina Harmon were all in attendance to watch their Hawkeyes — Clark, Martin, and former national player of the year Megan Gustafson — take the court.

"It’s super special. It’s cool for our program, cool for Lisa, for Coach Jan, for all of them," Clark said in a pregame press conference. "They’ve known me since I’ve been 13 years old and now I’m 22 getting to live out my dream and they’ve been a huge part of that and helping me get here and helping Megan and Kate to get here too. It’s a great moment for them and I’m sure they’re not complaining about a trip to Vegas."

As for her college teammate, Clark had nothing but good things to say ahead of the showdown. 

"I’m just really happy for her and everything Coach [Becky] Hammon says about her is so true," she said. "Every person that played at Iowa and was around her knows that to be true. She’s the ultimate teammate, ultimate person, ultimate leader."

In the end, Martin stole the show with 12 points and seven rebounds in 22 minutes, while Clark amassed eight points, seven assists, and five rebounds over 29 minutes of playing time. 

"It was weird," Martin admitted after the game. "I'm not going to lie — just looking out on the court and seeing her in a different jersey than me, it was obviously different. But it's really fun. We're both living out our dreams right now."

The Aces next meet the fever on July 2nd at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

Barcelona Beat Lyon to Win Back-to-Back Champions League Titles

Barcelona's Aitana Bonmatí and Alexia Putellas celebrating after beating Lyon at the 2024 Champions League final
Ballon d'Or winners Aitana Bonmatí and Alexia Putellas helped Barcelona to a second-straight UWCL title on Saturday. (Ramsey Cardy - Sportsfile/UEFA via Getty Images)

Barcelona was crowned champion of the Champions League on Saturday with a 2-0 win over Lyon in Bilbao.

Alexia "La Reina" Putellas, who recently re-signed with Barcelona, came off the bench to score the team's second goal. Fellow Ballon d’Or winner Aitana Bonmatí provided the team’s first. After the game, defender Lucy Bronze said Putellas was nicknamed "the queen" for a reason.

"Alexia is the captain of the team and she's the queen of Barcelona for a reason,"  defender Lucy Bronze told DAZN. "She's got the quality to do that in the last minute of the Champions League final when we were up against it at the end and it just sealed the win for us. It was amazing."

The victory marked Barcelona's first win over Lyon in a UWCL final, having previously gone up against the French side at both the 2019 and 2022 Champions League finals. It's also Barcelona's second Champions League title in a row.

"It's hard to win it once, but to do it back-to-back, Lyon showed how difficult it is and this team has finally done that," Bronze said. "I think we go down in history as one of the best teams in Europe."

This season, the team also secured a quadruple for the first time in club history, having already won Liga F, the Copa de la Reina, and the Spanish Supercopa. The win ensures that coach Jonatan Giráldez — who has officially departed the team to join the NWSL's Washington Spirit — leaves Europe a champion.

"It was an incredible game. I am really happy, it's one of the best days of my life for sure," Giráldez told broadcaster DAZN after the game. "We did an amazing job. I am very proud of all of them."

Following the win, Putellas said her team "can't ask for anything else."

"Our objective was to win four out of four," the Spain international told reporters. "We have achieved everything we wanted. Every minute of sacrifice has been worth the effort — and I'd say that not after the game, but before, just entering in the stadium, with all the support we had here, it was worth it."

2024 Laureus World Sportswoman of the Year Aitana Bonmatí said that the crowd support made it "feel like Camp Nou."

"I am on cloud nine right now," she said. "It is an historic day which we will remember forever."

Sun’s Alyssa Thomas Ejected After Flagrant 2 on Sky Rookie Angel Reese

Angel Reese said there were "no hard feelings" stemming from Alyssa Thomas's flagrant foul. (Melissa Tamez/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Angel Reese might have gotten knocked down on Saturday, but she got right back up again. 

Connecticut’s Alyssa Thomas was ejected from the Sun’s 86-82 win over Chicago following a flagrant foul 2 on Reese — the first of her career. While the two were battling for a rebound, Reese took a clothesline hold around the neck courtesy of Thomas before hitting the ground.

After the game, Reese told reporters that there were "no hard feelings" and she appreciated Thomas for playing her hard beneath the basket.

"I know she purposely probably didn’t do it towards me," Reese said. "But just being able to come out there and just be strong and stand on two feet, it was going to be a tough game and that’s what I’m built for. And my teammates had my back throughout the whole game. So I was prepared for it."

She also didn’t buy into the idea that it was a "Welcome to the WNBA" moment, but thanked Thomas "sending a message" because it helped her get back up and "keep pushing."

"It’s not just because I’m a rookie. I’m a player. I’m a basketball player. They don’t give a damn if I’m a rookie. I mean, I want them to come at me every day. I want them to come at everybody," she added. "I mean, they’re not supposed to be nice to me. I hope y’all know that. They’re not supposed to be nice to me or lay down because I’m Angel Reese or because I’m a rookie."

Reese finished the game with 13 points, five rebounds, and two assists over 33 minutes.

Barcelona to Face Lyon in Champions League Rematch This Weekend

UEFA Women's Champions League Final"Barcelona FC - Olympique Lyonnais"
Saturday's game will be the third UWCL final meeting for Barcelona and Lyon, having previously gone up against each other in 2019 and 2022. (ANP via Getty Images)

The UEFA Women's Champions League final kicks off in Bilbao on Saturday, with a couple of familiar foes set to face off for the trophy.

Olympique Lyonnais Féminin, making its 11th final appearance since 2010, will go head to head with a Barcelona side making its fourth final appearance in a row.

This will be the third time these two teams meet in the UWCL title game, having previously appeared in the 2019 and 2022 finals. Lyon won both of those prior games against Barcelona, alongside a total of eight Champions League trophies. That’s double that of any other club, with Eintracht Frankfurt coming in a distant second with four. 

Should Barcelona win, this would be the team's third title — breaking a tie for the third in the UWCL total titles race. 

But as these teams return to the UWCL final, it also marks the end of an era for both clubs. The game will be the last for both club managers, as Barcelona’s Jonatan Giráldez and Lyon’s Sonia Bompastor depart for new jobs after the season's end.

Giráldez is set to leave for the NWSL's Washington Spirit, while Bompastor will take over for incoming USWNT coach Emma Hayes at Chelsea. Both coaches have earned one UWCL trophy during their tenures, while Bompastor also brought two Champions League trophies to Lyon as a player. She was the first coach to win a UWCL trophy as both a coach and player.

This season, Barcelona is looking for its first quadruple, having won a fifth Liga F title alongside the Copa de La Reina, and the Spanish Supercopa. 

"We hope he can go out with the four trophies because we know how competitive and ambitious he is," Barcelona midfielder Patri Guijarro told ESPN. "It has been a winning era with him in charge and for him to go out with all four trophies would be historic and incredible."

But Lyon's Damaris Egurrola is excited about her team's chances of overcoming Barcelona once again — and to do it in front of family and friends.

"Lyon have something special," she told Forbes ahead of the weekend's final. "We have a great team and we have the players with enough talent to win any match."

The game will be a homecoming for Egurrola, who began her professional career with Athletic Bilbao.

"I’ve been thinking of this day and night," she said. "I’ve been dreaming of playing this match. Having the opportunity to play in San Mames is amazing. This is where it all started for me."

The UEFA Women's Champions League final kicks off Saturday, May 25th at 12 PM ET and is free to stream on DAZN.

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