Rochester Tennis star Dieters chooses Ohio State

ROCHESTER HILLS — Kelsey Dieters has not heard the last of it.

The standout tennis player from Rochester Hills and a Rochester High senior made a verbal commitment this past summer to Ohio State and officially signed Tuesday with the Buckeyes, as part of the NCAA early signing period.

The problem? She lives in the heart of Michigan and Michigan State country.

“I haven’t heard the last of it. People have been joking about this with me for a while now,” smiled Dieters, who is on course to set the school record for career wins at Rochester. “I love Ohio State.”

Dieters joins Niki Flower of Upper Arlington (Ohio) High School, the top-ranked prep player in that state, to form a stellar class at Ohio State for coach Chuck Merzbacher.

“This is one of the best classes in the country,” said Merzbacher in a press release. “Kelsey and Niki will make an immediate impact on the program. These two have the ability to play at the top of the line-up in both singles and doubles.”

Dieters has over 70 career wins against three losses. She was 26-0 as a sophomore when she won the state title at No. 1 singles. She finished 26-1 last season reaching the state semifinals, the same level she reached a freshman. She was 22-2 as a freshman.

Her 52-2 record over the past two seasons is one of the best two-year run for any No. 1 singles player in the state in recent years. She is also the Falcons’ third singles star to go to a major D-I program in the past decade.

“It’s really exciting signing with Ohio State,” said Dieters. “It’s a great experience going to a Division I school and I’m looking forward to playing for coach Merzbacher. He’s a great guy and I’m looking for a new atmosphere. It’s going to be a fun experience.

“Ohio State was my first choice, mainly because of the coach, and the girls have a great team and they are really nice,” continued Dieters. “Just all-around, the academic program and athletic program (has a) great reputation.”

Dieters talked to over 25 Division I colleges in the past year and had letters coming in from all points of the compass. Besides Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State, Illinois, Vanderbilt, Tennessee, Wake Forest, Arizona State, Florida State, Colorado, Texas Tech, Denver, Auburn, North Carolina State, Penn State, Wisconsin and Northwestern were some of the other large schools that were heavily seeking her services on the tennis court. And there were more.

“The Big Ten was the main conference that I wanted to play for,” she added. “There were a lot of schools that contacted me. It got pretty hectic. I took official visits to a lot of schools.”

Dieters has earned multiple accolades on the club circuit, where a lot of her recruiting took place. She won the 2010 Girls 18s Midwest Open Singles and Doubles titles, was the Girls 18s SEMTA Qualifier and Midwest Designated champion in 2010 and won the 2008 and 2009 under 18 doubles tennis festival (National Level 4), among others.

Dieters was also honored with the 2010 Female Hoxie award, given to athletes in southeastern Michigan for good sportsmanship and achievements both on and off the courts. Former Buckeyes standout and Troy High graduate Caitlin O’Keefe (2005-08) received the award back in 2002 as a prep senior.

“We are very excited to announce the signing of Kelsey Dieters,” said Merzbacher. “She has very impressive records and rankings that tell the story of her accomplished junior tennis career. She is the 2009 Michigan high school state singles champion and the tennis recruiting ranking has her at No. 30 in her class nationally and No. 2 in all of the Midwest. These are impressive athletics accolades but just as impressive are Kelsey’s academics achievements and awards. She is a complete student-athlete and will certainly make an impact in our line-up in singles and doubles.

“I have watched her play for several years and her competitive spirit, along with her ability to aggressively strike the ball from almost anywhere on the court, led me to believe her game is built for high-level college tennis,” continued Merzbacher.

Dieters has one goal left in mind for her high school career — to regain her status as the No. 1 singles state champion.

Dieters’ only loss as a junior in the high school season was to Grand Haven’s Hailey Barrett, the No. 4 seed who rallied for a 1-6, 6-4, 6-4. She is a three-time regional and league champion and has won more than 20 tournaments in her high school career.

“That is the goal,” she smiled. “Last season I had the one loss.”