Patrick Maloney came back to play one year on the Oyster Bay boys tennis team but, he’ll leave behind a legacy that lasts much longer.
The senior defeated Ryan Fishback of Geneva, 7-5, 6-2, to capture the state boys individual tennis championship Saturday at the USTA National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows.
It wasn’t easy for Maloney, who did not drop a single game during the regular season, according to his coach Glen Steinberg. Maloney only dropped six games at the state tournament prior to the final.
“I started off pretty slow,” Maloney said. “I wasn’t serving well but I just fought hard.”
The crucial game of the match came with the score tied 5-5 in the first set. Maloney faced two game points on Fishback’s serve that would have pushed his back to the wall, but he got the break to go up 6-5 and served out the set.
“When my serve isn’t going I try to focus on my baseline game and just mix things up a lot,” he said. “I’m really confident in my second serve though so I knew I wasn’t going to double fault much.”
Maloney dropped the first game of the second set but then settled in and rallied off five straight games while his serve came back to form.
“I knew he was really consistent and fast and a good athlete,” Maloney said. “He makes you play an extra ball. You hit a ball and you think it’s a winner but it comes back. I think that kind of took me by surprise.”
What didn’t take Maloney or Steinberg by surprise was the final result.
“Once I found out he was coming back I knew he had a possibility of making a run at states,” Steinberg said. “He never lost focus all season.”
Maloney had shifted his focus to tennis outside of school since the eighth grade but knew for some time that he wanted to represent Oyster Bay again as a senior and go after a state championship while playing with his teammates.
“I think just being able to see how focused he is when he plays helped the other kids see where they have to go to get to the next level,” Steinberg said. “Never giving up on any points, never losing track of where you’re at and no matter what the score is always grinding through — that’s how Patrick played the entire season.”
Now Maloney will have some time to celebrate his championship before heading off to play at the University of Michigan.
“This is awesome,” he said. “I’m really glad I came back to play and I can’t think of a better way to end my senior year.”