"Words can't explain," the WTA's 79th ranked Alycia Parks said as she nearly choked up with emotion at capturing her first WTA maiden title. "Just last year, I was in an ITF Challenger final and now I have won a WTA 250." Things you thought were beyond reach have now come true as Alycia Parks experienced on her journey towards earning her first title in professional tennis.
Parks had her talents tested last year in December when she made it to the finals of two tournaments back to back. The WTA challenger in Andorra, AD on December 4th as she defeated Rebecca Peteson in straight sets proved to result in her first challenger title.
Peterson has been on tour over a decade and earned two titles, but she couldn't break Parks' defense on the competitive court. It was exactly a week later Alycia entered her second WTA challenger this time in Angers, France.
She again made it to the final against Anna-Lena Friedsam. Parks played gritty by taking her opponent down in three hard fought sets and coming out the winner after bouts with Zhang Shuai and Marketa Vondrousova. The Australian Open proved to Parks that despite her not winning her qualfying rounds to make the main draw at Melbourn, she sharpened her skills to enter the Lyon Open in France.
The country that proved lucky for her in gaining her first challenger crown. This was the environment that helped her gain confidence in doing well in her livelihood sport. "I think France has a special part in my heart right now," Alycia had said with definite positivity in her tone as she won her maiden title.
But she'd had a taste of what the strong fan environment holds when she was at Angers. She felt it again in Lyon. Alycia's belief in herself from Court 1 to Center Court battling with Petra Martic, Danka Kovinic and knew that making it to the finals was another test, this time a bigger one.
She set her mind and feet on Center Court of Lyon not knowing what the result would be but accomplishing one game at a time was the answer to success. Ranked 79, Parks' major test was in facing Caroline Garcia, a player that grew up in Lyon, had the backing of the French people there and the fans who gave mental as well as physical support in applause and banners.
Both played undeniably great tennis. Garcia had close to 80 percent winning rate on her first serve, but Parks had won 85 perscent of her first-serve points and held off Caroline with a mighty blasting serve to win the first set tiebreat 7-6.
Alycia knows her game plan is solid and says that " I made sure I focused on my service games today...I knew it wasn't going to be an easy match." She had pumped in 15 aces in that championship game whereas Caroline only had 4.
The entire final round was magical for Parks who was just trying to stay consistent without getting mentally destroyed. Parks proved that she is eady for the big wins this season. She defeated Maria Sakkari ranked no. 7 last year in Ostrava and came close to winning over Ons Jabeur.
This year it's Caroline Garcia ranked no. 5. Alycia is moving great into the road of having successful matches and tournaments. She confessed that "The key to a successful week for me was keeping the same routine. I wake up around the same time every morning, eat the same breakfast...basically doing the same routine.
Consistency counts and Parks revealed that "...Just staying within myself and fighting for every point, that got me through the match." Now it's Parks' time to keep rising because she knows that losing is a lonely place but everyone loves a winner.
France and its fans have shown her the love she needed to elevate herself and start winning big time, no matter how hard it is or what it takes.