Podcast - Vekic & Guarachi

The WTA 500 event in San Diego featured a wide range of the game's best and brightest on hand looking to close out their 2022 seasons in style. While the tennis calendar can feel like it's moving a snail's pace, sometimes it's good to reflect on where you've been in order to appreciate where you are heading.

Kamau Murray sat down with a few players in San Diego for some candid interviews on the Podcast, and the most recent episode features two he knows exceptionally well.

Donna Vekic has captivated the pro game since her teenage years, and it's fitting that she joined the show for an introspective look while she was in the midst of a year-defining performance on the court. Alexa Guarachi has taken the road less traveled from college to doubles excellence, and she continues to churn out quality results and heart-warming moments.

These women revealed what motivates them, how they analyze their craft, and what life is like when they are off the clock and out in the real world on this very special podcast episode.


Vekic is as likeable as they come on the WTA, but the last year she's showcased her perseverance more than anything. After an injury in early 2021 she never could get right, falling out of the Top 100 and struggling to regain her rhythm. The work never stopped though, and the Croatian trusted the process.

This San Diego Open, she emerged like a phoenix from qualifying to knock off a who's who of the women's tennis elite. Sakkari, Sabalenka and Collins all fell victim to Vekic. But one win meant more than the others, and that was her triumph over Karolina Pliskova that was ten years in the making. The tall Czech player had beaten her six straight times, including three in Vekic's unfavorable 2021 campaign. As much as her form has improved, it was the mental side that propelled a reversal of fortunes.

"I had a good feeling for once. And I was like, You know what, I'm just going to believe that I can beat her this time," Vekic said in reference to her monumental win over a person she considers a dear friend off the court. "If it goes in, it goes in. If not, we move on. And it's been going in!"

Donna Vekic & Kamau Murray

Donna Vekic & Kamau Murray

Murray broaches an interesting subject with Vekic, who is part of the current generation commanding tennis but has played long enough to be a contemporary with those from the previous one. Whether players are too nice nowadays is a hot-button issue in all sports, but with tennis it has a different level of complexity. On-court it's perfectly understandable to keep your competitive edge and distance, but off-court in such a travel-filled job it is certainly nice to have people to share the experiences with.

"The tour can be lonely, and the year is so long," Vekic said. "If you don't have a few friends that you can share tough moments, good moments with, then I think it's a really sad life."

The Croatian has that in spades, citing her close friendships with Ajla Tomljanovic, Belinda Bencic and Maria Sakkari. But Vekic reiterates that the competitive fire is still very much alive in her era, and the competition level is still at its apex.


Alexa Guarachi might not be a household name, but those involved in the game know exactly the type of talent she possesses. She went from an Alabama college tennis player to a successful doubles career that ranks among the most consistent in the world. Five tour titles, a WTA Finals appearance, and a runner-up trophy from Roland Garros in 2020 are accolades most would take in the world of competitive tennis.

And Guarachi credits a large portion of her success to her time spent representing the Crimson Tide.

"I had to really learn the ins and outs of being a professional, and college really teaches you that," the Chilean lamented. "It really teaches you responsibility and independence. It was a great learning curve for me and I grew up really quick."

Alexa Guarachi & Kamau Murray

Alexa Guarachi & Kamau Murray


Guarachi, who made the French Open final with Desirae Krawczyk, is now playing with Andrea Klepac of Slovenia. Partnership changes are commonplace on the tour, and players are often tasked with finding a new teammate in hopes of success.

Which begs the question; what do you look for in a doubles partner?

"You have to play with someone that you know is going to have your back, through the ups and the downs," Guarachi said on that topic. She even cited the recent exceptional play of Nicole Melichar and Ellen Perez as an example of a team that took a long approach and didn't expect results right away. It's a fascinating look into the mind of a doubles player, and one whose approach has enabled her to stand the test of time.

The Podcast with Kamau Murray features an eclectic collection of guests from all walks of tennis life. On this episode you'll hear about Donna Vekic's candle business, Alexa Guarachi's work-life balance as a married woman on tour, and all the conversation that you can't find anywhere else.

Turn up the volume and enjoy the ride, like these two ladies certainly are.