By ADAM PRUIETT
Northwest Florida Daily News
FORT WALTON BEACH – Alexa Guarachi’s tennis career has taken her to places far and wide, something that always makes her chuckle when she scans player lists on foreign soil.
The South Walton senior refined her game while traveling the globe, playing in Egypt, Korea, Scotland, England and Australia. And those are just a few of the well-known places you can find on a map.
Usually, she never had to look hard to find the outsider. It was always there in black and white.
“Going to remote countries and seeing Destin, Fla., next to your name is pretty funny,” Guarachi said.
Guarachi, who competed in all four junior grand slam events last year and was one of the nation’s top college recruits before signing with Alabama, built up her name both in the states and internationally.
Locally, she’s getting honored for it, as the All Sports Association, Inc., has named her its 2009 Amateur Award winner.
“Obviously, I’m very honored to win the award and humbled to win such a prestigious award,” Guarachi said.
A prestigious list of winners is what Guarachi has joined. She follows Florida quarterback Tim Tebow (Wuerffel Trophy), PGA golfer and former Milton standout Boo Weekley (Professional Award) and former Fort Walton Beach and Alabama star Glen Coffee (Collegiate Award).
“We at the All Sports Association are very pleased to have someone with Alexa’s accomplishments and national ranking as our Amateur Award winner,” All Sports Association President Mike Coupe’ said. “She has achieved much on the international stage and her continued success at the collegiate level is quite likely.”
Guarachi, who will be honored at the All Sports Association’s 40th Annual Awards Banquet on Feb. 20 at the Emerald Coast Conference Center, had a memorable 2008, starting with her participation in all four junior grand slam events.
No surprise, her favorite was Wimbledon, even though the 18 year old admitted to tripping while walking down the All England Club stairs to her match. Guarachi certainly got a taste of what the big-league version of the event must be like.
“The people there are such tennis fanatics and so hard on players,” Guarachi said. “In the first round, I played one of their up-and-coming juniors. I had the whole crowd cheering against me.”
Some of Guarachi’s other 2008 highlights included winning an International Tennis Federation doubles championship in Chile, defeating 20th-rated Mallory Burdette at the Hard Court Championships and climbing to No. 81 in the ITF world junior rankings.
Guarachi, rated as the seventh best prospect in the country for the class of 2009 by tennisrecruiting.net, is now preparing for her time with the Tide and hopes to give the tennis program a boost.
“I’m more nervous about the school part than tennis,” she said.