Coco Gauff faces a fellow Floridian next — who is Alycia Parks?
Jan 18, 2024
Coco Gauff lives in Delray Beach. Alycia Parks lives just a few miles up the road in Port St. Lucie. These two Florida-based players are set to face off in the next round of the Australian Open. After winning the US Open, Gauff is a bona fide global superstar. But her next competitor isn't a household name... yet.
Who is Alycia Parks? Known for her massive 129 mph serve, Alycia Parks has a career-high no. 40 WTA singles ranking. She also won her first WTA Tour title in Lyon last February. Parks provided an intimate glimpse into her past as part of the My Journey video series recently produced by the WTA and Morgan Stanley.
"Everything starts with your mind and usually when I'm at peace, that's when I perform my best," Alycia explains, reflecting on the mental aspect of tennis, a game as much about psychological strength as it is about physical prowess.
Alycia's journey to pro tennis was a family affair. "When I picked up a racket, I always wanted to play pro so my parents ... saw the potential and they sacrificed a lot," she shares. Her mother worked tirelessly supporting Alycia's dream. "If this is something you guys really want to do, then I'm going to support you. You need to be 100% focused with this," her mom insisted, according to Alycia.
Alycia was traveling to junior tournaments in an RV cobbled together by her father. "He basically made an RV from scratch, he built shelves and cabinets in there and put in a toilet. He called it a tour bus," she chuckles. She acknowledges the hard times early on going from the grassroots level all the way up to the pros.
A major turning point came when Alycia and her sister were noticed by the USTA. "I just remember my parents said USTA gave them a call and they kind of scouted me and my sister at a tournament," she remembers. This opportunity led them to move from Georgia to Florida in order to train at the USTA National Campus in Orlando, a crucial step in Alicia's career.
After turning pro, Alycia faced her fair share of challenges, particularly when she went through a rough patch in her career. " was pretty difficult for me because I went a couple of months without winning a match, and I'm very competitive," she confesses.
Alycia is keenly aware of her influence as she continues to grow in the sport. "I try to be the best role model and leader I can be because I know I have young girls looking up to me," she admits.
From her humble beginnings, Alycia's journey early in her career is a testament to the power of determination, family support, and the will to overcome challenges. Her story is a vivid reminder that the path to success is tough, but with unwavering determination and support, anything is possible.
That said, is a win over Gauff possible? Well, Parks has some momentum right now. Parks just took out 2021 US Open finalist, Leylah Fernandez, 7-5 6-4 to charge into the third round of the Australian Open. Regardless, no matter what happens, the Florida tennis world will be the real winner in this exciting third round match. We'll be watching.
Written by Florida Tennis' Executive Editor and Publisher Matt Pressman. Source / Top Photo: WTA (presented by Morgan Stanley).