Sunday, September 15, 2019

Parks, 18, stuns top seed to reach $25K Redding final

Alycia Parks, playing in Berkeley, Calif., in July, beat top-seeded
Katherine Sebov of Canada 6-4, 7-5 on Saturday night to reach the
final of the $25,000 Ascension Project Women's Open in Redding,
Calif. Photo by Paul Bauman
   REDDING, Calif. – It's easy to see why Alycia Parks has been compared to Venus and Serena Williams.
   Like the Williams sisters, Parks is an African-American who skipped the juniors to let her body develop.
   Like Venus, Parks is tall (5-foot-11 or 1.80 meters) and slender. They even look alike facially.
   Like Serena, Parks has a booming serve.
   The unseeded Parks, 18, of Port St. Lucie, Fla., used her serve and laser groundstrokes to overpower top-seeded Katherine Sebov, a 20-year-old Canadian ranked 200th, 6-4, 7-5 on Saturday night to reach the final of the $25,000 Ascension Project Women's Open.
   Parks, ranked No. 522, earned her first victory over a top-200 player and advanced to the second and biggest final of her career. She lost to Chieh-Yu Hsu of Chinese Taipei in the final of a $15,000 clay-court tournament in Shreveport, La., in late June.
   Parks, who turned pro at 16, is scheduled to play third-seeded Gabriela Talaba, a 24-year-old left-hander from Romania, today at noon at Sun Oaks Tennis & Fitness.
   Talaba, who graduated from Texas Tech in sports management last year, outsteadied Jada Hart, a 21-year-old wild card from Colton, Calif., in the San Bernardino area, 6-3, 6-2.
   Hart reached the NCAA singles quarterfinals as a UCLA junior in May and won the 2016 U.S. Open girls doubles title with fellow Bruin Ena Shibahara.
   Talaba, ranked No. 307, reached the first hard-court final of her career. She won clay-court titles in Charleston ($25,000) and Marbella ($15,000) last year and Bucharest ($15,000) in 2017.
   Talaba and Parks will meet for the second time. Talaba triumphed 7-5, 6-0 in the final round of qualifying in a $25,000 clay-court tournament in Bethany Beach, Del., last summer.
   Parks reeled off the last five games against Sebov.
   "I'm known for coming back when I'm down," said Parks, who pounded nine aces and won 83 percent of the points on her first serve (30 of 36). "I just had to re-focus."
   Talaba raced to a 3-0 lead (one service break) against the unranked Hart, who recovered for 3-3.
   "I started being a little bit less aggressive and making a little bit more mistakes, so I changed that and said, 'Well, you have to be more aggressive. You can't just wait for the points to come to you,'" said Talaba, who won nine of the last 11 games. "I tried to force errors, and she made some."
   Talaba broke Hart's serve four consecutive times to lead 5-3 in the first set and 4-1 in the second set. Hart finished with six double faults, including two in a row to trail 3-5 in the first set.
   Talaba, one of the few women with a one-handed backhand, has played all week with a bandage on her left hand to protect a blister on her palm.
   In Saturday's doubles final, second-seeded Emina Bektas of Indianapolis and Tara Moore of Great Britain beat third-seeded Catherine Harrison of Germantown, Tenn., in the Memphis area and Paige Hourigan of New Zealand 6-3, 6-1.
   All except Moore starred in college – Bektas at Michigan, Harrison at UCLA and Hourigan at Georgia Tech.
   In the first round of singles in a $25,000 tournament at Sunderland, Great Britain, last April, Moore trailed 0-6, 0-5 and faced match point against Jessika Ponchet of France before prevailing 0-6, 7-6 (7), 6-3.
   Kunal Patel San Francisco (KPSF) ChampionshipsSteve Johnson is set to play Stefan Kozlov in the final of the non-sanctioned tournament today at 1:30 p.m. at the Berkeley Tennis Club.
   Johnson defeated Bradley Klahn, a Stanford graduate, 6-4, 7-6 (6) in a matchup of 29-year-old Americans. Kozlov, a 21-year-old American, beat Sam Querrey, a 31-year-old San Francisco native, 6-4, 7-5.

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