Nolan McCaig is glad to be back in California.
The 2017 Ceres High grad earned a partial scholarship to UC Riverside.
He’ll suit up for the school’s NCAA Division-I men’s tennis team this spring.
“I’m excited,” he said. “It’s a great opportunity. I get to play in the state I grew up in and excelled the most.”
McCaig will be attending his third college in four years.
He transferred from Southern Utah University, which cut both its men’s and women’s tennis programs this summer due to a lack of funding.
“We saw it happening at other colleges all around the nation,” McCaig said. “We didn’t expect it to happen to us. It was a shock to everybody.”
“I really enjoyed my time there,” he added. “I made a lot of friends.”
McCaig had his junior season at Division-I Southern Utah cut short this past spring because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I missed playing tennis,” he said. “But it helped me reset mentally and physically. It gave me more time to focus on my school work.”
McCaig compiled a 5-3 record while splitting playing time at No. 2 and 3 doubles.
He finished 2-6 against singles competition. He competed at No. 2 singles five times and No. 3 singles three times.
It marked the first time McCaig competed at the Division-I level.
“I had to raise my level of play,” he said. “The altitude was the biggest challenge. Because of the high altitude, you have to use specialized balls. A lot of the points are shorter. You get a lot of points off your serve. I had to come to the net more. I focused on serving and volleying.”
UC Riverside posted a 12-5 overall record during the 2019-20 COVID-19 shortened campaign.
The Highlanders won their final eight matches.
“I get to play for a really solid team. I’m definitely going to have to fight for my spot.”Nolan McCaig
“I get to play for a really solid team,” McCaig said. “I’m definitely going to have to fight for my spot.”
McCaig moved from Utah to California in April.
He found out Southern Utah was eliminating its men’s tennis program in June.
“Having to stop playing tennis was a big adjustment,” he said. “I didn’t know what to do with my time. A lot of the parks and courts (in Modesto) were locked up. I couldn’t hit anywhere. I worked out daily in my backyard.”
McCaig and all NCAA Division-I student-athletes impacted by the coronavirus last spring were granted an extra year of eligibility.
“If I have to take more credits (to graduate), I’ll use it and play another year of tennis,” said McCaig, a criminal justice major.
McCaig spent his sophomore and freshman years of college at Midwestern State University in Texas.
He helped the Mustangs secure back-to-back berths to the NCAA Division-II Championship Tournament. Midwestern State also won a pair of Lone Star Conference Tournament titles. The Mustangs had a combined record of 42-12.
McCaig and No. 1 doubles partner Dillon Pineda were named to the LSC First Team for the second year in a row in 2019. The duo amassed an 18-4 record.
McCaig had a 15-9 mark in singles play.
McCaig won the 2018 LSC Freshman of the Year award.
He compiled a 16-6 record at singles.
He garnered LSC honorable-mention accolades.
McCaig and Pineda earned first-team, all-conference honors for their outstanding play in doubles.
Nolan and Dillon compiled a 16-9 record. Three of their victories came against nationally-ranked opponents.
McCaig tops Ceres High’s list of greatest tennis players.
Seeded first, Nolan dominated all three of his opponents on his way to capturing the title at the 2017 Sac-Joaquin Section Division-II Individual Singles Championships.
The experience of finishing in the top four three times-including second twice-at the section tournament fueled Nolan’s desire to reach the pinnacle of his sport.
McCaig won all 23 of his matches during his senior year He claimed his fourth consecutive WAC singles crown.
Nolan was voted conference MVP for the fourth consecutive year.
McCaig’s career record was 100-4.
He had a perfect 63-0 mark against WAC opponents.
McCaig led Ceres High to the Sac-Joaquin Section Division-III crown in 2015.
The Bulldogs also captured three WAC titles and participated in the playoffs four times.