Out of the Parks: Alycia joins Zhu with maiden title

TWO first-time WTA Tour title winners were crowned in the first week of February with American Alycia Parks and Chinese talent Lin Zhu both triumphant in their respective tournaments. Parks lifted the WTA 250 trophy at Lyon by defeating top seed and Top 5 talent Caroline Garcia, while Zhu ended the run of Ukrainian Lesia Tsurenko in Thailand.

Parks was incredibly impressive across the tournament, capping off her performance at the Lyon Open by ousting the top seed in the decider, 7-6 7-5 to win in two hours and seven minutes. The College tennis player produced a massive 15 aces to overpower Garcia, winning 39 of 46 points off her first serve (85 per cent), while saving all four break points against her. She only broke Garcia once, but it proved crucial in a contest that showed she can match it with the very best in the world.

“It feels amazing to hold my first WTA tour-level championship trophy,” Parks said post-match. “Words can’t explain. Just last year, I was in an [ITF Challenger] $60,000 final, and now I have won a WTA 250.”

Though Garcia served strongly winning 80 per cent of her first serve points off a 63 per cent clip – including four aces – Parks was even better, and it proved the difference in the match.

“I made sure I focused on my service games today to get through the match, because I knew it wasn’t going to be an easy match,” Parks said. “So just staying within myself, and fighting for every point, and that got me through the match.”

Lin Zhu lifting the 2023 Thailand Open trophy aloft | Image credit: Thailand Open

In Hua Hin, Zhu was able to overcome fierce resistance from former Top 5 player Tsurenko to secure a 6-4 6-4 victory in one hour and 45 minutes. The 29-year-old Zhu has had quite the journey on the WTA Tour, and while the final was far from clinical for either side, the Chinese hope was the better of the two. She broke eight times from nine chances, and while she was broke six times herself, saved an additional eight break points.

“I’m super happy to win my first title here in Hua Hin,” Zhu said post-match. “Lesia, she’s a fighter, she never gives up, so I needed to give 100 percent and I needed to be more patient, especially towards the end.

“I [felt] a little bit nervous, but I know it’s normal, so I had to handle that, I had to attack when I’d have a chance, because she’s not going to give this match to me. I’m super happy I did it.”

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