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McCaig bests Bulldog varsity boys tennis teammate Liang for WAC singles crown
Ceres Highs Nolan McCaig (left) and Alick Liang placed first and second, respectively, while competing at the Western Athletic Conference varsity boys singles tennis championships last week in Modesto. - photo by DALE BUTLER/The Courier

Nolan McCaig and Alick Liang were seeded first and second, respectively, for the Western Athletic Conference varsity boys singles tennis championships this past week in Modesto.

The Ceres High teammates faced little resistance while advancing to the finals.

McCaig elevated his play at the right time en route to besting Liang 6-3, 6-4 for the WAC title on Friday at Del Rio Golf and Country Club.

Nolan also collected victories against Central Catholic's Conor Fenton (6-0, 6-2) and Connor Garcia (6-0, 6-0), and Central Valley's Alexis Zigala (6-0, 6-1).

"I'm proud of myself for making it to the finals," said McCaig, a freshman standout, who had a perfect 13-0 mark in WAC play. "I was a little nervous during the match. We practice against each other. I know how he plays."

"I just pretended he was another opponent," Liang added. "It was definitely different. He's really consistent."

Down 4-3, Liang dropped the final two games of the first set.

Alick battled back from a 4-1 deficit during the second set. He trailed 4-3 and 5-4 late in the match.

"He (Liang) hit more consistently and harder," McCaig said. "He played better. I was a little nervous but confident I'd get the next game and finish it off. It was pretty fun having long rallies and good points. We made each other work."

Liang beat Los Banos' JT Barcellos (6-0, 6-2), Central Catholic's Chris Huber (6-0, 6-1) and Central Valley's Edgar Castillo (6-0, 6-2) before losing to Nolan.

Alick compiled a near-perfect 12-1 record in conference play this year.

"I'm pretty happy," Liang said. "This is the first time I've made it to the finals for singles. I thought I played well. It was a really good match."

"It's a win-win for me," Bulldogs coach Bryan Harden said. "I wanted to see a tough, hard-fought match. They played some good tennis. I don't think Alick could have played any better. He played his heart out. Nolan's ability to win the big points was the difference."

Ceres High's Julio Ochoa won WAC singles titles the previous two seasons.

He matched older brother Luis' league title total and ascended to top-three status in program history.

Older sister Marifer won her second conference championship in the fall.

Slowed by a shoulder injury, Luis played in the WAC doubles tournament this year.

He wanted to make sure he was healthy for playoffs.

"I didn't tell him what to do," coach Harden said. "That was his decision."

Ceres High teammate Rene Cortes advanced to the quarterfinals.

He lost 7-6 (7-4), 6-4 to Barcellos.

Cortes defeated Pacheco's Antonio Hipolito 6-2, 6-1 in the first round.