Rarely tested while starring at No. 1 singles for four seasons on Ceres High’s varsity boys tennis team, Nolan McCaig was forced to elevate his level of play during his first year with Midwestern State University-Texas.
“Coming in as a freshman, I didn’t know what to expect,” he said. “I felt like I had a lot to prove. Nobody knew me. Playing in tournaments outside of high school prepared me for college. I wasn’t surprised with the talent.”
McCaig’s superb play earned him the 2018 Lone Star Conference (LSC) Freshman of the Year award.
“It really boosts my confidence,” he said. “It’s something to put on my shelf. But there’s more to accomplish. I’m never satisfied with how I play. I can always improve my game.”
McCaig compiled a 15-6 record while splitting time at No. 3 and 4 singles during the LSC season.
“I used my strengths to my advantage. I hit a lot of balls back. I was a lot more aggressive striking the ball. My backhand improved.”Nolan McCaig
“I used my strengths to my advantage,” he said. “I hit a lot of balls back. I was a lot more aggressive striking the ball. My backhand improved.”
McCaig and No. 1 doubles partner Dillon Pineda were named to the LSC First Team.
Nolan and Dillon compiled a 16-9 record. Three of their victories came against nationally-ranked opponents.
They won their first seven matches.
McCaig and Pineda almost earned All-American honors.
“We lost a couple close matches towards the end of the season,” McCaig said. “That pushed us outside of the top 10.”
Nolan helped the Mustangs secure a berth to the NCAA Division-II Championship Tournament.
McCaig’s 6-4, 6-0 win over Alejandro Martinez propelled Midwestern State past Metro State-Denver at the South Central Regional.
Nolan’s straight-set victory in No. 4 singles play gave the Mustangs an insurmountable 5-1 lead.
“That’s something I’ll remember for quite a while,” he said.
The Mustangs posted a 1-1 record en route to a top-eight finish at Nationals.
Midwestern State topped Bluefield State 5-1 in the first round and lost 5-0 to Columbus State in the quarterfinals.
“I’m pretty happy with how we finished our season,” Nolan said. “The program had only been to the Elite 8 once prior to this year.”
The Mustangs went 22-6 in 2018.
Midwestern State claimed Lone Star Conference regular-season and tournament titles.
“We had a solid year,” McCaig said. “We expected to do well. We had great team chemistry. We were all really close. We were always together. That connection helps you do better on the court.”
Nolan’s schedule consisted of classes, practices, individual instruction, strength training, conditioning and matches.
McCaig and his Mustang teammates also read to local elementary students once a week.
“Balancing everything was a little tough,” he said.
Nolan will play in USTA Northern California tournaments during the offseason.
“I’m going to be working all summer and fall to boost my game,” he said.
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.
McCaig defeated River Valley’s Luvdeep Bal 6-3, 6-2 in the finals.
He also collected victories against Oakmont’s Marshall Comia (6-1, 6-1) and Laguna Creek’s Henry Huang (6-2, 6-2).
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.
Ceres High (14-1) placed first in conference play with a near-perfect record in 2017.