Destin’s Alexa Guarachi Takes Her Place Among World’s Top Tennis Players

Photo by Robert Hradil​

Alexa Guarachi prepares to return a serve during tournament play in Gstaad, Switzerland, where she won her first World Tennis Association doubles title in July. 

 

Alexa Guarachi of Destin and her doubles partner, Erin Routliffe, sat dejected at the Bank of England Sports Center in Roehampton, England.

It had appeared that they would make it into the qualifying tournament for The Championships at Wimbledon.

But, with five minutes left in the sign-in period, the one-time University of Alabama tennis stars were informed that they had been bumped from the field, which is established based on the combined world rankings of the players.

Then, the unexpected happened. The pair was summoned to the referee’s office. There had been a mistake. They were in.

Guarachi, 27, and Routliffe made the most of the opportunity. They won both of their matches at Roehampton, and they were on their way to the most prestigious tennis tournament in the world.

There, they lost in the first round to the eventual doubles champions, but made a respectable showing, taking their opponents from the Czech Republic to three sets.

And, there, Guarachi graduated to the big leagues of tennis.

“I had been to Wimbledon as a junior, but stepping onto the court as a professional was a totally different thing,” Guarachi said. “It definitely lived up to the hype.

Playing at that level, the accommodations are better and the support is greater. I looked around the locker room and there was a former champion, Simona Halep.”

So, by the time Guarachi arrived at the U.S. Open in late August, she felt like she belonged. Again, Guarachi and her partner (Vera Lapko, a native of Belarus) were knocked out in the round of 64.

But Guarachi returned to the Destin Tennis Club at Seascape — where she learned to walk and to hold a racquet and where her father, Fernando, has been the pro for more than 30 years — with the confidence that she can accomplish her ambitious goals for 2019.

Currently ranked 80th in the world among women’s doubles players, she hopes to crack the top 50 next year and to qualify for a spot on Chile’s Olympic tennis team. (She holds dual American and Chilean citizenship; Fernando grew up in Chile.)

And, while she found that Serena Williams came off as a poor sport in the women’s singles final at the U.S. Open, Guarachi hopes to keep things in perspective and to remain a good winner and a good loser, no matter her ranking.

In that regard, her older brother Stefan, who loves dogs, movies and the Incredible Hulk and has Down syndrome, is immeasurably helpful.

“I think I am having a bad day, and then I think about Stefan and I realize how fortunate I am just to be able to play tennis,” Guarachi said.

As for Williams, who was assessed three code violations and docked a game in her match against Naomi Osaka, Guarachi said, “It was a little weird that they called the coaching violation because that’s not very typical, but what happened after that was in Serena’s hands. Breaking her racquet and calling the referee names, she did all of that on her own.

“She may have thought she was untouchable, but if you push things far enough, you are going to get penalized for your actions.”

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