The McCaig family celebrated another Sac-Joaquin Section singles champion Tuesday at Johnson Ranch Racquet Club.
They just didn’t get the major title sweep they had hoped for.
Nolan McCaig exorcised years of frustration with his first section crown, defeating River Valley High’s Luvdeep Bal in the Division II final.
The top seed from Ceres High didn’t lose a single set in seven postseason matches, including all three at the section tournament in Roseville this week.
About two hours later, Nolan gathered along the cyclone fence to see if his kid brother – reigning Division I champion Coby McCaig – could complete an unprecedented double.
No siblings have ever held the section’s boys’ singles titles simultaneously, and the McCaig brothers, separated in age, school and division, threatened to be the first.
Nolan set the mood with a 6-3, 6-2 victory over Bal, adding another layer to his lore at Ceres. A four-time Western Athletic Conference champion, Nolan can add “section champion” to his resume.
“It felt great, amazing, just really awesome knowing all my hard work paid off,” Nolan said. “I finished on a good note.”
Coby was on pace to join him in the winner’s circle.
The Modesto sophomore led No. 1 Chethan Swanson of Folsom 5-2 in the first set when things started to go sideways.
“He stayed focused throughout the whole set,” said Coby, the No. 2 seed. “I made a few errors and let off a little bit and allowed him to attack more.
“I should have probably kept doing what I was doing; staying aggressive and attacking his backhand more. That was the only thing I let down.”
Swanson’s deep ball and intermittent rain unnerved Coby, who eventually lost 7-5, 6-2. He also led the second set 2-1.
Swanson is bound for UC Davis in the fall.
“Second place sounds awful,” Modesto coach Scott Mitchell said. “But it’s second place in the whole section.”
Nolan didn’t lose a set all postseason, including four matches at the WAC tournament. His confidence built and built and built like a snowball rolling downhill.
“When I first stepped on the court, I was determined to dominate and play my game and do everything I could to win,” said Nolan, who has committed to Midwestern State in Texas. “Every single match, I wasn’t thinking about the wind or if something was hurting. I was focused and honed in on my game.”
Nolan took apart Bal systematically, using his speed to track down shots and prolong points. And when the moment was right, when “the ball was sitting there for me,” he finished with his forehand.
“I’m proud of how much I’ve accomplished, being the four-time WAC champion and helping my team get better,” Nolan said. “But being able to finish my high school career as the section champion, it puts the cherry on top.”
The McCaigs breezed through the semifinal round, clinching finals appearances with straight-set victories.
Nolan reached his third D-II final in four seasons with a 6-1, 6-1 victory over Oakmont’s Marshall Comia. Nolan also played for section titles in 2014 and 2015, losing to a pair of two-time champions in Sean Alves of Case Roble and Hermont Legaspi of Inderkum.
Coby frustrated Napa’s Daniel Mateescu with his booming backhand and crafty slice, 6-1, 6-3.
Mateescu’s postseason career has been defined by the biggest hitters in the Stanislaus District. He was defeated by Beyer’s Ryan Lewis, the 2015 singles champion, the last two seasons.
“I just played my game,” Coby said. “He’s a really defensive player and that works well with my game. I like to hit the ball and I used my drop shot against him, too. He missed it long a lot.
“I was just hitting the ball by him and finishing points early, so he couldn’t take control of the rallies.”
Coby’s run to a second consecutive Division I final included a Modesto Metro Conference championships and Anaheim Tennis Center national doubles title.
“It’s a different game – doubles,” Coby said following his semifinal win, “but my confidence has been really high these last few weeks. I’m feeling good about my game.”
Even in defeat.
In the tender moments following the loss, Coby drew on another McCaig family trait: resolve.
“It wasn’t a bad loss,” he said. “It was a good match. I just need to come back next year and move forward.”