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Boisclair’s Rise to No. 1 Leads to Resounding Fall

TIMES STAFF WRITER

The tournament committee moved Erin Boisclair to the head of the class. They seeded her No. 1, dubbing her the best 16-and-under tennis player in the country.

So when Boisclair, of Agoura Hills, arrived at Morley Field in Balboa Park for the United States Tennis Assn. Girls 16 National Championships, she expected to score straight A’s.

But after she was eliminated in singles and doubles Friday, Boisclair, 14, wore the look of a schoolgirl who had just received a report card and the grades were lower than expected.

She was stunned and disappointed. And after a moment’s thought, she was determined to do better next time.

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“I think I learned a lot from this tournament,” she said. “I put too much pressure on myself, when I should just come out and play my tennis. I tried to relax. I mean, it’s too hard.”

Boisclair was eliminated in singles Friday morning. To put a capper on a miserable day, she and Janet Walker of Seffner, Fla., then lost in the semifinals of doubles to second-seeded Katherine Ashley of Chestnut Hill, Me., and Annica Cooper of Geneva, Ill., 6-7 (7-5), 6-3, 6-1.

Fourth-seeded Boisclair-Walker appeared to have the match in hand. They held a one-set, 3-0 lead with Boisclair serving. Then they unraveled, losing 12 of 13 games. Boisclair, a strong server, was broken five times in the match.

Boisclair will finish eighth in singles because she was beaten by second-seeded Aubrie Rippner of Chico, 6-3, 6-3, in an earlier consolation match.

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Boisclair trounced Rippner, 6-2, 6-0, in the Miami (Fla.) Easter Bowl in April. But Boisclair said her head wasn’t in this match. A 7-6 (7-4), 6-1 setback to 10th-seeded Tammy Encina of Miami Beach in the Thursday quarterfinals was still haunting her. She had stayed up the night replaying the defeat in her head.

“I just put way too much pressure on myself,” Boisclair said. “Everybody knew it. My coach knew it. My dad knew it. I was, like, shaking in every match.”

If this was a lesson in humility, Boisclair said she might as well take it now.

“I’m going to have to take it sometime,” said Boisclair, dabbing her face with a towel, her disappointed eyes hidden under the bill of a baseball cap.

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“I’ve never been seeded in a national tournament No. 1. If it didn’t happen here, it would happen later. It’s over now and I learned a lot.”


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