From South Walton to Wimbledon: a dream come true for Guarachi

LONDON, England (WJHG/WECP) - From the first day a player picks up a tennis racket, Wimbledon is the tournament kids dream about playing in.

That dream is coming true for South Walton state champion and University of Alabama graduate Alexa Guarachi.

Guarachi qualified for the women's doubles tournament with partner Erin Routliffe. The duo met at Alabama and teamed up professionally in September. Now they're competing on the biggest stage.

Their world ranking isn't high enough to automatically qualify, so they needed to play their way in through a series of qualifying matches last week.

Their plan to make the field of 64 was almost derailed before taking the court.

"Five minutes before the time was up to sign up, somebody had bumped us out. So we actually weren't even in," Guarachi recalled. "We were sitting there, we were upset, like, 'man, we came all the way and we thought we would get in, and we didn't.' They had messed up! They called 30 minutes later, they called over the loud speaker asking us to come up to the referees' office. They're like, 'we made a mistake, you guys are actually the last ones in.'

"We almost had it all taken away. We almost weren't even able to play, so we were just so excited to be able to even just play."

Guarachi played at Wimbledon as a junior 10 years ago and went on to victories in college and the pros. Yet even with her talent and accomplishments, if you told her three years ago she'd be playing in London this week...she never would have believed it.

"I've been through a lot in the last year and a half. I had ACL surgery at the end of 2015 and I was out completely in 2016," Guarachi said. "I went through so many days where I was crying, crying, crying because I didn't feel like I could be here anymore. I wasn't up to the level. It was just an incredible journey. I was just excited to be able to compete at the level again."

Guarachi credits The Andrews Institute in Gulf Breeze for her recovery.

Match-ups are set for the first round of Wimbledon, but match dates and times won't be determined until Tuesday.

Guarachi and Routliffe square off against third-seeded Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova of the Czech Republic on Wednesday or Thursday.