It was just three games into his semifinal match and Patrick Maloney was in an unfamiliar position.
The Oyster Bay senior was trailing — after dropping just one game in his first two matches — at the state boys individual tennis championship Friday at the USTA National Tennis Center.
It didn’t last for long as Maloney used his booming serve and strong backhand to climb out of the early hole and defeat Ethan Jacobs of Clarkstown North, 6-3, 6-2, to advance to Saturday’s final against Geneva’s Ryan Fishback.
Jacobs didn’t go away easily at the end of the match either, taking two games in a row in the second set after trailing 5-0.
“It was a tough match and it took long for me to end it,” Maloney said. “He saved three match points and then a couple more on his serve and then finally I was able to close it out. I think the match being tough to the end will help prepare me even more for the final.”
Earlier in the day Maloney defeated Huntington’s Jack Flores, 6-0, 6-1.
“When I decided to come back and play high school tennis my goal was to get here,” said Maloney, who had been competing exclusively outside of school since eighth grade. “I’ve been practicing hard and I’m just happy how it has gone.”
Maloney closed out three games in the first set with aces and used his length and quickness to stymie any offense Jacobs could muster.
“I think my backhand was really solid today and made up for some errors on the forehand,” Maloney said. “Usually when I play the serve and forehand are weapons and the backhand is there to find me my forehand and just be solid. Today I was able to find some winners off of it so that helped a lot.”
Maloney will be the only Long Island player competing for a state championship as all three doubles teams that advanced to the tournament’s second day dropped quarterfinal matchups in straight sets.
Syosset’s Preet Rajpal and Eli Grossman dropped a tough second set, 7-5, after losing the first 6-3.
“Right now it’s not the best feeling in the world but this place has its highs and lows,” Rajpal said. “We did really well last year and the competition is incredible. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, there’s nobody else I would have rather went on this journey with and I’m so happy Eli is my partner.”
Friends Academy’s Alexander Roti and Samir Singh, and Commack’s Andrew Lin and Sol Yoon also fell in the quarters.
After dropping his opening match Thursday, Half Hollow Hills East’s Abhinav Srivastava won three straight and will be competing in the consolation final Saturday morning.
NYSPHSAA Boys Tennis Tournament
At USTA National Tennis Center
Semifinals: Singles: Maloney d. Jacobs (Clarkstown North), 6-3, 6-2. Quarterfinals: Singles: Maloney (Oyster Bay) d. Flores (Huntington), 6-0, 6-1; Doubles: Togo/Lowitz (Horace Greeley) d. Lin/Sol (Commack), 6-1, 6-4; O’Brien/Weiss (Pittsford-Mendon) d. Rajpal/Grossman (Syosset), 6-3, 7-5; Smith/Sahakya (Scarsdale) d. Singh/Roti (Friends Academy), 6-2, 6-3.
Semifinals: Singles: Srivastava (Half Hollow Hills East) d. Grasso (Saratoga), 4-6, 6-4, 10-7; C. O’Brien (Albany Academy) d. Cashin (Cold Spring Harbor), 1-6, 6-4, 10-4. Quarterfinals: Doubles: A. O’Brien/W. O’Brien (Albany Academy) d. Cheng/Huang (Half Hollow Hills East), 6-3, 6-2.