Ceres High varsity boys tennis standout Nolan McCaig strongly believed he would win a Sac-Joaquin Section title this year.
Seeded second for the Division-II singles tournament, McCaig had to settle for a top-four-finish.
"I was feeling really confident," said Nolan, a section finalist his sophomore and freshman years. "I just didn't play to the best of my ability. I'm disappointed in myself."
McCaig won two of three matches last week at Johnson Ranch Racquet Club.
He faced a familiar opponent in the semifinals on Friday.
"Last year, I beat him (Kimball's Garrett Chun) during the semifinals," Nolan said. "I've also beaten him twice outside of school in tournaments. He's gotten a lot better."
McCaig lost in three sets, 2-6, 6-3, 7-5, to Chun.
"I had a lot of opportunities and didn't capitalize," he said. "I made a lot of unforced errors. I could have played better."
Chun elevated his level of play after dropping the first set.
"I didn't have the same intensity," Nolan said. "I was playing too loose. I could have been a lot more focused."
McCaig topped Benicia's Rajan Bhatia 6-1, 6-4 in the quarterfinals and Kennedy's Matthew Lin 6-0, 6-1 in the opening round.
Nolan watched younger brother/Modesto High freshman Coby McCaig win the Sac-Joaquin Section Division-I singles crown last week in Roseville.
Fourth-seeded Coby outlasted second-seeded Ryan Lewis of Beyer in three sets (6-3, 0-6, 6-2).
"I'm not really surprised," Nolan said. "The way he focused, I knew he'd have a good chance at winning it. It just shows that his hard work has paid off. It's a huge accomplishment for him. I'm very proud of him. He's a really good player. He's helped me become a better player."
Nolan didn't face any resistance in claiming his third straight Western Athletic Conference singles championship on April 28.
He beat Los Banos' Quentin Barcellos in straight sets (6-0, 6-0) in the finals.
McCaig has a combined record of 45-0 in WAC play over the past three seasons. He won all 16 of his conference matches this year.
He also made history by becoming Ceres High's first-ever three-time conference champion.
Nolan compiled a near-perfect 21-1 overall record this year.
He helped lead the Bulldogs to their seventh straight playoff berth.
A victory in the finals of the section's singles tournament next season would be the perfect ending to his high-school career. "That would be one of my greatest accomplishments," he said. "I'm going to have to practice a lot harder."