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Uncertain future for 2017 CHS grad McCaig
Nolan McCaig mug
Nolan McCaig

Nolan McCaig was looking forward to playing tennis at UC Riverside this spring.

The 2017 Ceres High School grad/Southern Utah University transfer found out on Sept. 2 the college discussed eliminating all 15 of its athletic programs due to funding issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

A final decision could be made this October.

The 2020-21 school year begins on Sept. 28.

“We had a Zoom meeting with our team and athletic director,” McCaig stated. “There’s a chance they’re not going to cancel sports. I’m still concerned. I’m hoping everything works out. It would be nerve racking going through the process of finding schools with openings again.”

McCaig could suffer a triple whammy as he opted to not return to Southern Utah this fall after the men’s and women’s tennis programs were both axed in June because of a lack of funding. 

He also had his junior season with the Thunderbirds cut short during the springtime because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“If UC Riverside gets enough moral support from the community, it would be tough to shut down the programs,” McCaig said. “They told us to share the hashtag #KEEPUCRATHLETICS to show support for athletics.”

McCaig compiled a 5-3 record while splitting playing time at No. 2 and 3 doubles at Southern Utah.

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.”

 “I really enjoyed my time there,” McCaig added. “I made a lot of friends.”

UC Riverside posted a 12-5 overall record during the 2019-20 COVID-19 shortened campaign.

The Highlanders won their final eight matches.

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.