COLUMBUS, Ohio – Kelsey Dieters and Niki Flower have signed NCAA National Letters of Intent to play for the Ohio State women’s tennis team beginning in 2011-12, Chuck Merzbacher, Ohio State head coach, announced Monday. Both Dieters, from Shelby Township, Mich., and Flower, from Upper Arlington, Ohio, won 2009 state titles to cap off undefeated seasons in 2009 and are five-star recruits according to tennisrecruiting.net.
“This is one of the best classes in the country,” Merzbacher said. “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.”
Competing for Rochester High School, Dieters made a run to the 2009 Michigan Division I State Championship after an undefeated season in which she did not drop a single set in 26 wins. A two-time team captain, her success throughout her high school career has led to three all-state accolades, as well as two team MVP awards. Dieters has shown a high level of skill in tournaments as well, winning the 2010 Girls’ 18’s Midwest Open Singles and Doubles titles. She 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). She was on the 2009 team tennis national finalist and was undefeated at No. 1 singles .She has earned multiple sportsmanship awards, including the 2010 Female Hoxie award, given to athletes in southeastern Michigan for good sportsmanship and achievements both on and off the courts. Former Buckeye and Troy, Mich., native Caitlin O’Keefe (2005-08) received the award in 2002.
In the recruiting lists she is currently ranked first in the state of Michigan, sixth in the Great Lakes region and 30th nationally in the 2011 graduating class.
Dieters has also excelled in her studies, ranking 10th in her class of 412, and earning membership into the National Honor Society. She is a three-time all-state academic selection.
“We are very excited to announce the signing of Kelsey Dieters,” Merzbacher said. “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 athletic accolades but just as impressive are Kelsey’s academic 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.”
The Columbus-native Flower comes to Ohio State after leading Upper Arlington to state championships in both 2008 and 2010. She clinched the 2009 state singles title following a 32-0 season and was the 2010 state runner-up last month. Flower has won six tournaments in Girls’ 16s and Girls’ 18s since March 2008, including the Girls’ 18s Ohio Valley Midwest Qualifier over the summer, and was a finalist at the Girls’ 16s National Open in Lexington, Ky., in 2009. A high school All-American, she was a three-time first team All-Ohio selection. Flower is ranked first in Ohio, ninth in the Great Lakes region and 49th nationally in the 2011 graduating class.
A doubles standout, she won five-consecutive Midwest Closed Doubles titles from 2005-09, playing with three different partners. She won the WOP Midwest Hard Courts in July 2010 and was a semifinalist for the Girls’ 16s Easter Bowl Spring Nationals in April. Flower was the state doubles runner-up in 2008.
Flower is the younger sister of former All-Big Ten Buckeye Kirsten Flower (2008-10) and the daughter of All-Big Ten Ohio State alum Jim Flower (1976-79), a duo believed to be the first father/daughter tandem to earn tennis All-Big Ten honors. Her great grandfather, Jim Flower, played football for the Buckeyes and in 1919 scored the first touchdown in Ohio State’s first ever win over the University of Michigan while her mother Joan Flower also graduated from Ohio State.
“We really battled some top tennis programs and universities to land Niki Flower,” Merzbacher said. “I am truly excited to have Niki continue the family tradition of playing for The Ohio State University.
“It is important for our program, to once again attract an Ohio high school state champion. Niki has not only won an individual state singles championship, but has led the Upper Arlington Golden Bears to two team state titles. She really has a positive impact in team tennis by the way she energizes her teammates. I can’t wait to have her in the collegiate dual matches.
“Obviously, I have watched Niki play for such a long time. She has the potential to be one of the best collegiate doubles players in the nation as a freshman after she won five Midwest doubles titles with three different partners. Along with her doubles skills, Niki’s singles play is outstanding and she has done very well nationally.”