Alycia Parks was once in a position to finish her season and kick up her toes for the low season initially of November. However the 21-year-old Atlanta local simply could not shake the discontentment of seeing her rating drop out of doors the Best 150. So she laced up her footwear and hopped on a aircraft in a foreign country.
One month later, Parks received the most important identify of her profession eventually week’s WTA 125 on the Crèdit Andorrà Open to wreck into the Best 100 for the primary time.
«I set a purpose previous this yr to be Best 100 through summertime,» Parks advised WTA Insider. «It took me a bit of longer. I gave it an additional push as much as Midland as a result of Midland was once intended to be my final event. I used to be so just about breaking the Best 100 after which I had 89 issues fall off.
«I used to be like, ‘No, I’ve to climb again up. Let me pass in a foreign country and check out to provide it one additional push.’
«I broke the Best 100 the day prior to the primary draw of the Australian Open closed.»
Parks’ Best 100 debut was once a significant praise for her late-season surge, which started in Ostrava. Armed with a large serve that excels on indoor onerous courts – her favourite floor – Parks got here via qualifying because the International No.144 and proceeded to attain back-to-back wins over Karolina Pliskova, bageling the previous No.1 within the first set , and notching her first Best 10 win over Maria Sakkari to make her first WTA quarterfinal. She misplaced to eventual champion Barbora Krejcikova, however received the doubles identify with Caty McNally.
It was once a wild week for Parks, who was once mins clear of lacking her flight from Italy.
«Most often when stuff begins to get rocky for me, I do know one thing excellent is set to occur as a result of that is simply God checking out me,» Parks stated.
«Once I went to Ostrava, I used to be at peace. When I’m at peace, I’ve a transparent thoughts. One thing clicked there for me. I liked the sensation of ways I used to be taking part in Ostrava, so I stated, I’ve to keep in mind this second. I took the ones moments and taken it into the opposite tournaments.»
Together with her season-ending momentum, 2023 is primed to be Parks’ breakout season. Get to grasp the big-serving American, who as soon as served as Serena Williams’ frame double and has a backstory that sounds eerily acquainted.
She knew she sought after to be a professional tennis participant from the beginning
Parks’ father Michael, who has additionally coached her during her profession, is a former skilled basketball participant. Parks is 17 months more youthful than her sister Mikayla, and the 2 athletic sisters discovered their manner into tennis by way of a serendipitous second with their mom, Erica.
«In basic faculty, I made all A’s and each time we made all A’s, my folks took us to the toy retailer. It was once taking me an hour to pick out one thing. My mother was once like, Hurry up or I am gonna select one thing for you.
«She simply came about to appear down and it was once two tennis rackets and 3 tennis balls. She knew me and my sister preferred to play outdoor and we had a tennis court docket in our group. She took us to the tennis court docket and he or she was once studying her guide and he or she simply heard the ball going from side to side, me and my sister simply saved rallying. She known as my dad and he or she was once like, I feel they are lovely excellent at tennis.»
Parks performed each game below the solar as a kid, however it was once tennis’ particular person nature that drew her in. Win or lose, she needs it on her shoulders.
«I sought after to transform a qualified tennis participant at seven years previous. Once I first hit the ball, that is once I knew, ok, I need to pass professional on this.
She skipped the junior circuit to maximise her professional doable
Parks performed simply 8 junior occasions and didn’t play the junior Slams, a choice designed with the long run in thoughts.
«We did not do the junior path as a result of on the time, I used to be rising during juniors. I might all the time have knee issues and my dad sought after to forestall accidents. Simply educate and get in a position for the professionals. So that is what we did and right here I’m now.
«My sister additionally performed, so we driven every different. We did not pass primarily based off the contest that was once available in the market as a result of we had been all the time competing with every different. In case you have a sister that you simply all the time need to beat and vice versa, I feel that places you in a distinct component.
«So once I were given on excursion and the professionals, [the level] wasn’t truly a marvel.»
She were given to hit with Serena and Venus Williams at the USA Open
A couple of athletic sisters, coached through their father, who honed their abilities in opposition to every different at the public courts? Parks is aware of her tennis foundation tale sounds acquainted.
«Once I watched King Richardthere have been numerous scenes [that felt familiar]. We more or less did it that manner too. It was once so bizarre as it was once so identical.»
As an adolescent, she was once even roped in to play Serena Williams’ frame double in a Gatorade business.
«It felt excellent at the USA Open that I were given to hit with either one of them. Serena particularly, as a result of I glance as much as Serena. She’s the GOAT of tennis. What are you able to do but even so glance as much as her? She’s actually tennis.»
She’s no longer right here for any handouts
«I made a remark someday to my mother: ‘When is it going to get simple?’ She stated, ‘Oh, it is by no means going to get simple. It is by no means going to get more straightforward. If you need one thing, it’s important to paintings for it.’
«In order that advised me, OK, handouts don’t seem to be going to be for you. It’s a must to paintings for what you need.»
She’s a real believer that the whole lot occurs for a explanation why
Having began the yr ranked No.237, Parks described her 2022 season as «Me vs. Me». A lot of the season felt like a combat with herself to seek out the mindset and sport taste that will yield constant effects. However she by no means misplaced religion.
«I all the time do a hashtag, #WalkByFaith, on Instagram. For example, final week when USTA was once doing the entire level chase for the Australian Open wild card, Caty received the wild card however she ended up breaking Best 100 and did not want it. I used to be two issues at the back of Taylor Townsend for receiving the wild card.
«One thing advised me to come back to Europe and play the 125s. I made the semifinals in Valencia [an ITF W80] after which got here right here and received it.
«Perhaps that is why God did not permit me to win Valencia as a result of he almost definitely stated, OK, Alycia, you will have ITF titles. I understand how unhealthy you need this, however subsequent week you are going to win your first WTA 125 identify, one thing that you have by no means executed prior to. You received ITF titles, and that’s the reason lovely, however a WTA identify, that is a step upper.
«That is how I checked out it. So once I say strolling through religion or having a bit of bit of religion, that proves it.»
She has massive targets for 2023
«If I stay taking part in like this, how I am feeling now, I must be going via attracts lovely freely. I do see myself Best 10 subsequent yr, which is lovely top, however it is unquestionably potential. So I feel Best 10 subsequent yr is a purpose for me.»
Parks counts every other 21-year-old, No.1 Iga Swiatek, and every other American, Sloane Stephens, as avid gamers who encourage her.
«I like the way in which Iga performs. I am lovely just about Sloane Stephens. We all the time have conversations and he or she’s all the time pronouncing one thing certain.»
She’s taking a look ahead to rubbing shoulders with them at the major excursion subsequent yr.
«I am taking a look ahead to having the chance to be taking part in major attracts as a result of we all know it is a grind coming via qualies. I feel that is what I am maximum excited for, as a result of when I am well-rested, that is when it is onerous to prevent me
«So subsequent yr is up from right here.»