WHEELERSBURG — Tanner Preston has the proper perspective.
The graduating Wheelersburg High School senior knows not athletics but education is the key to his future, although he does aim to play the sport that he loves for as long as he possibly can.
With that in mind, Preston picked Capital University in Bexley as his official college choice, as he officially announced his intention on Friday with his virtual signing ceremony.
Ordinarily, Preston would be joined by his fellow Wheelersburg teammates and friends for his signing ceremony, but the threat of the coronavirus has forced ALL of Ohio’s school districts to be closed for the remainder of the academic year.
But the senior was just happy to have a signing ceremony — something he wanted.
“The only difference is that my signing ceremony lacked the normal people who would be there, aside from my parents and coaches. But even though it’s virtual, I still get to have one,” said Preston. “It’s great that I am able to do this during this time.”
Preston was originally scheduled to sign on April 1, but Wheelersburg Local Schools —along with all of Ohio’s public and private school districts —officially closed as of March 16.
A month later, on April 20 to be exact, he learned that his senior spring sports season of playing Pirate tennis was unfortunately canceled.
In his three seasons at Wheelersburg, Preston played both reserve and varsity matches — and both doubles and singles competition.
“I am comfortable playing singles or doubles,” he said.
He had a goal of qualifying for the Division II Southeast-East District tournament, which would have meant advancing out of the sectional tournament 10 days before.
But Preston, although disappointed, doesn’t dwell upon a season that never was.
“As a senior who did not get to finish what he started, that much disheartens me. I did have high expectations this year and I wanted to get to districts. I wanted my name on the sign at the school next to the tennis courts (for district qualifiers). But it doesn’t do me any good to dwell on it or let it keep me down. I am going forward and looking forward to playing in college at Capital,” he said. “I have been running every day, I’ve been lifting weights at home, doing conditioning and getting ready for next year, and when the stay-at-home guidelines get lifted, I will be back at the tennis courts practicing.”
Once he gets to Capital, he will be playing for first-year head coach Cody Hurley — a 26-year-old Ohio Northern University graduate who will be just a mere four, five or six years older than some of his veteran netters.
Capital is a member of the Ohio Athletic Conference and the NCAA Division III, as the OAC canceled ALL of its spring sports for 2020 in mid-March.
In fact, Preston planned to meet his future Crusader teammates in person in March, as Capital was scheduled to play a non-conference match at Shawnee State.
“I wanted to meet them face-to-face at Shawnee and see them play,” he said.
Hurley helped sell the Crusader program to Preston, who narrowed his college choices to Capital and Morehead State in Kentucky, but Morehead didn’t offer men’s tennis while Capital did.
“I took visits to both schools, but I knew I wanted to try and play tennis beyond high school. It’s the sport I love and only Capital offered that. Coach Hurley and I emailed back-and-forth and had a few phone calls. He got me excited about the program and had several selling points,” he said.
Preston plans to major in Business Management, as he said both institutions offer excellent business programs.
So credit him for having the proper perspective.
But to him, break point was an opportunity at playing the sport he loves for a little while longer.
“They say do what you love to do, so I love tennis and I am going to do it for four more years,” said Preston. “It’s definitely a big step forward.”
Reach Paul Boggs at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1926, by email at [email protected], or on Twitter @BoggsSports © 2020 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved