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By Richard Pagliaro | Sunday, February 5, 2023


Alycia Parks rocketed 15 aces and did not drop serve toppling top-seeded Caroline Garcia 7-6(7), 7-5 to capture her first WTA title in a Lyon thriller.

Photo credit: Graham Denholm/Getty

Lyon fans were waving French flags, stomping their feet and screaming support as home hero Caroline Garcia gained break point in an electrifying final.

Maiden finalist Alycia Parks heard the supportive sounds and brought silencing fury with a searing serve.

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In a performance of poise and power, Parks pounded 15 aces and denied all four break points she faced toppling top-seeded Garcia 7-6(7), 7-5 to capture her maiden WTA title in Lyon.

"I want to thank you for all coming out, this title means a lot to me," Parks told Lyon fans afterward. "France has a special part in my heart right now. I want to congratulate Garcia, you had an amazing week, keep playing how you're playing."

The lone break of the final came in the final game when Garcia double-faulted deep on championship point. An ecstatic Parks blew a kiss toward the sky and pointed an index finger to her temple signifying the mental strength she showed throughout her maiden final.

A red-hot Parks scored her 16th win in her last 17 matches—her lone loss in that superb span coming in Australian Open qualifying—as she continues a rocket ride up the rankings.

At this time last year, Parks was ranked No. 199.

Mastering her first Tour-level final with today's title she rises to a career-high ranking of No. 51 in the live rankings and played with the command of a player with Top 20 aspirations.

The 22-year-old baseliner from Atlanta essentially beat WTA Finals Fort Worth champion Garcia at her own game playing brilliant first-strike tennis and firing that flame-thrower serve anytime Garcia and French fans made a serious uprising.

The fifth-ranked Garcia carried an impressive 11-3 finals record into her home final today and played well throughout but could not crack the code of the American's commanding serve.

"First WTA title, well deserved today, you played amazing," Garcia told Parks afterward. "Keep playing like this, keep serving like this for sure you are going to keep going up. I'm just sad for me that you did it here, but congrats."

The beauty of Parks' service motion is the rhythm that begins with calm and erupts into cacophony of ball striking strings. From a slow start, Parks explodes up and out into the court. Parks said she views the start of her service motion as the beginning of a dance.

"It comes very natural for me," Parks said. " I want to thank my dad because he's the one who taught me. He always gave me a rhythm kind of like dance like one two. So that always stuck in the back of my mind."

A pulsating first set took another turn in the tiebreaker. Parks gained the first mini break for 5-3, but Garcia got it right back and leveled at 5-5. Crunching a crosscourt forehand gave Parks a set point at 6-5.

The American had a good look at a forehand pass, but tightened up and pushed it into net. Garcia took that gift and smacked an ace to earn set point at 7-6 only to see Parks crank a courageous second serve right inside the line for 7-7.

Ripping her eighth ace brought Parks a second set point and when Garcia scattered a forehand, Parks seized the opening set leaving some Lyon fans stunned by the turnaround.

An assertive Parks doubled Garcia's winner output—14 to 7—in a high-quality first set that spanned 57 minutes and saw both women stand toe-to-toe and earn set points. Parks did not face a break point in the opening set.

Racing to her right chasing a forehand, Parks' foot caught on the surface and she crashed to the court one point into the second set.

The trainer came out to treat a small cut near the pinky of Parks' racquet hand.

A patched-up Parks returned to action and made a slick defensive dig off her backhand to extend the point and help her hold from Love-30 down in the opening game.

Parks pounded down three aces in a row then whipped the wide serve holding firm for a 2-1 second-set lead.

By then, Parks had pumped 11 aces, won 27 of 30 first-serve points and the home favorite hadn't had a sniff of a break point.

Still, Garcia stayed the the course and continued to take care of her own serve. A Parks double-fault put the American down Love-30 in the fifth game.

The second serve that had been so strong in the opening set showed signs of fissures as Parks hit a pair of double faults and missed a backhand to face break point.

Eighty-four minutes into the match, Parks faced her first break point of the day. A gutsy Parks slid a second serve down the T to save it then used a clever lob to cap her most challenging hold of the final for 3-2.

Staring down a break point in the eight game, Garcia went all in on a big second serve that caught the line, handcuffing Parks a bit as she netted a backhand return. Defusing the danger, Garcia held for 4-All inspiring fans to wave French flags in support.

Every time Garcia and the legion of Lyon fans roared, Parks pressed mute. Rallying from 15-30 down with some first serve bolts helped the American hold for 5-4.

Down 15-30 in the 11th game, Parks thumped her 13th ace to level. Garcia attacked to earn a break point only to see Parks pump her 14th ace down the middle to deny it with a shout.

Lyon fans were pressing on Parks yelling out at times. Parks hammered her 15th ace to save another break point and waved her arms in an expression of "make some noise now" to fans.

Wiping away three break points in the game, Parks showed fierce competitive character holding for 6-5.

A Garcia two-hander missed the mark giving Parks championship point in the 12th game.

A crackling championship match came to a quiet end as Garcia tossed in her third double fault to end a thrilling two hour, seven-minute final.

Parks blew a kiss toward the sky and pointed a finger toward her head.

If Parks continues to play this type of dynamic tennis, this is just the first of many future finals for her.


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