As soon as Oyster Bay tennis coach Glen Steinberg saw Patrick Maloney step on the court for practice earlier this season, he knew he had a county champion contender on his roster.
Maloney, a senior, had focused solely on United States Tennis Association events since he last played for his school team as a seventh-grader.
“When he came back it was really the first time I had seen him play matches in quite some time,” Steinberg said. “He was always traveling and he wasn’t around the team.”
It took only a few weeks before he realized he could have so much more.
“After really seeing him and speaking with him about who he was competing against, I realized I had a kid who was the favorite to win counties and make a run at the state tournament,” Steinberg said.
Maloney did even more than that as he captured the state title at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadow.
“When I decided to come back, this was my goal,” Maloney said after the state final. “I played really well and I was happy I got it done.”
The Michigan-bound senior cruised through the regular season without dropping a game before winning the county title with a 6-2, 6-1 victory over Cold Spring Harbor’s Matthew Cashin.
He dropped one game through the quarterfinals at the state tournament and only got tested during his 7-5, 6-2 win in the final against Ryan Fishback of Geneva.
And that was due in part to a nagging foot injury that Maloney had when he entered the state tournament.
“We knew getting the bye [as the top seed] was important because the less he played it was better for his foot,” Steinberg said. “It wasn’t a huge concern going in, but as the tournament went on it started to bother him more.”
In the end, nothing could stop Maloney from achieving his ultimate goal.
“The idea of winning a state championship and playing with the team again were the reasons I came back,” Maloney said. “It was awesome and I couldn’t think of a better way to end my senior year.”