As promised, I have an update on the Amazing Parks Sisters, who will take a break from their training in South Florida this weekend to attend a Junior Tennis Combine in the Washington, D.C. area .Martin Blackmon of the USTA has told Michael Parks that Alycia and Mikayla will likely begin tournament play early next year. Mr. Parks says that in January Mikayla will be 11, and Alycia will be 10, and he expects them to play level 4, 14’s. It should place the Parks Sisters in direct competition with some of the top Juniors in the country, and prepare then for international events. Remember, Alycia and Mikayla have been playing tennis for just two and a half years, and have been based in Florida for less than a year. They’ve come a long way in a very short period of time.
The eyes of the sports world turned to New York City for the US Open, and the Parks Sisters were there for Opening Day. According to their dad, it was great experience for the girls.While on the grounds of the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, the Parks Sisters got to watch matches and see how the top players in the world prepare to play in the final slam of the year. While at the Open, the girls also got to take pictures with Katrina Adams, former WTA Tour player turned commentator for the Tennis Channel, and with ATP tour player Donald Young. Young, who lives in Atlanta, has seen his ranking rise during 2010, and came into the US Open listed among the top 100 players in the world. The sisters are big fans of the Bryan Brothers, and they got to say hello to the world’s top ranked doubles team while in New York, too. Let it be noted that the media was aware of the Parks Sisters’ visit, as former ATP player and coach Brad Gilbert gave them an enthusiastic wave from his perch in the ESPN broadcast booth. Can you just imagine the look on the faces of these two young phenoms as they laid their eyes on Arthur Ashe Stadium for the first time? No doubt it inspired them to play, not in the future, but right then! Michael Parks says he and family friend Keith Mitchell were at the hotel the next day when the girls found a ball and started bouncing it around the room. They just couldn’t hold it in any more…Alycia and Mikayla had been watching tennis for two days and wanted to play. Mr. Parks shouted, “Keith, let’s get them out of this room and find them a court, quick!” Together the four hopped into a cab and drove to a tennis court not far from their hotel, and there in the heart of the Big Apple, the Amazing Parks Sisters worked their magic. No, it wasn’t Arthur Ashe Stadium, or Louis Armstong Stadium. It wasn’t even on the grounds of the National Tennis Center, but for that moment in time, it could have been. You might think this would be enough for a first time visit to New York, but the best part was yet to come. Alycia and Mikayla were special guests of Solomon Smallwood at the Madison Square Garden performance by Justin Bieber. In addition to being in the house for one of the hottest concerts on the planet, the young ladies got to meet a long list of celebrities that included Will and Jada Pinkett Smith, Snoop Dogg and Kanye West. The girls took pictures with Boys To Men, Jaden Smith, Usher, and of course, Justin Bieber. It was an amazing evening, but while they enjoyed the music, their father was totally taken with the building itself. Madison Square Garden has long been known as the “Mecca of Basketball.” A star basketball player in high school and college, Michael Parks took a moment or two to admire the banners that hung from the longtime home of the New York Knicks. After three days in New York, Michael Parks and his daughters headed back to Florida, and back to their daily workouts on the courts in Boca Raton. The family had taken just a small bite out of the “Big Apple” and the taste was sweet indeed!