Elizabeth Preister only started playing tennis as a freshman at Scotus Central Catholic as part of the Columbus High coop program. A little less than a decade after her first competitive match, Preister is now a graduate of St. Mary's College in Indiana with a degree in communicative sciences and disorders and with an Academic All-American honor to her credit.
Preister won matches in the state tournament in high school as a junior and senior. She was also named a Columbus Telegram super senior in 2015.
As a junior she was seeded at the state tournament, going 32-10 overall.
Preister was named the KLIR Athlete of the Year in high school, was a three-year letter winner in basketball, tennis and golf and a member of the National Honor Society and Academic All-State selection. On top of that, she was a 2014 All-State Orchestra participant, one of 130 students selected statewide.
"I enjoyed getting to learn the game from Coach Dave Licari and a tennis pro from Omaha, Joe Heydt," Preister said. "Each year I was dedicated to stepping my tennis game up to the next level of play, and I always worked hard in the offseason by taking lessons, playing in leagues, and playing in tournaments."
In college, Preister was one of only ten student-athletes from District 7 (Illinois, Indiana, Ohio) to earn First Team Academic All-District honors for the 2018-19 academic year by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA).
On top of that, she graduated valedictorian after averaging a 4.0 GPA. She has been named to the Dean's List every semester and will soon be a four-time MIAA Academic Honor Roll honoree.
On the tennis court, Preister is on a short list of players over the past 10 years to have collected more than 50 wins in singles play for the Belles. She put together a 59-13 record as a singles competitor.
Preister is the first student-athlete for Saint Mary's to earn Academic All-District for the At-Large Team.
As a freshman in college, she posted a 12-1 record in singles play, had a 5-1 record in MIAA contests, 9-1 at six singles and was on the MIAA Academic Honor Roll.
When she was sophomore she posted an 18-4 overall record at the five and six singles flight, including a 6-2 MIAA record and collected a combined seven doubles wins at the three doubles flight including a 4-3 conference record. She was also named to the MIAA Academic Honor Roll.
During her junior season, she recorded 14 wins at No. 6 singles on the season including a 7-1 conference record and contributed to 12 combined doubles wins, with six coming in conference matchups and was once again on the MIAA Academic Honor Roll.
Preister said the decision to go to St. Mary's wasn't too difficult after visiting.
"The beautiful campus was filled with teachers who inspire you to ask big questions - questions of meaning, purpose, and faith," she said. "I knew that my dreams and aspirations would grow at this college.
By attending Saint Mary’s, I was also able to continue my tennis career, play cello in the Notre Dame Symphony Orchestra, sing in the Notre Dame Women’s Liturgical Choir, perform research in the DeciBelle’s Research Group and follow my passion for Speech Language Pathology."
Preister said her favorite moments in the sport included traveling to USTA tournaments in high school and springs break trips with her college team.
Preister found out she was named an Academic All-American when her coach, Dale Campbell, and her sports information director, Sarah Miesle , gave her a call congratulating her.
"Being Valedictorian at Saint Mary’s, as well as being involved in tennis, the Notre Dame Symphony Orchestra, and the Notre Dame Women’s Liturgical Choir took a high level of commitment to both academics, athletics, and the campus community," she said.
"Having many different events each day of the week and traveling to away matches for tennis required me to be very organized and complete my school work and assignments well before the due dates were approaching.
"I was dedicated to the extracurricular activities that I was involved in, and I knew that if I was going to be this successful in the classroom, I would have to work hard every day."
Preister added that she "would like to thank my coach and teammates for inspiring me and encouraging me to do my very best."
Preister's final match was against Kalamazoo College in Michigan.
"My teammates and I had many different emotions going into the match," she said. "We always looked forward to playing this team twice a year, but we also understood that this was our final match together. Although my college tennis career is over, I will still continue to play in community leagues, coach, and share my love for the game with friends and family."
Preister now plans on attending the University of Nebraska-Lincoln to obtain her Master's Degree in Speech and Language Pathology.
Peter Huguenin is a sports reporter for The Columbus Telegram. Reach him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org