Dec. 5, 2002

COLUMBUS, Ohio- – Ty Tucker, Ohio State men’s tennis head coach, announced Thursday, Dennis Mertens from Braaschaat, Belgium, signed the NCAA National Letter of Intent to play for the men’s tennis team at The Ohio State University beginning winter quarter 2003. Mertens is planning to major in international business at Ohio State.

“In Belgium, you have to choose between academics and tennis,” Mertens said. “I chose Ohio State because I can focus on both my studies and tennis.”

Mertens has a career high junior world-rank of No. 135 in singles and No. 20 in doubles. He is ranked nationally in Belgium at No. 2 singles in juniors and is No. 1 in doubles in juniors. Mertens has 12 singles tournament wins and nine of 11 doubles tournament wins in Belgium.

“We hope to develop Dennis into a player that will be able to compete for Belgium long after he receives his degree from Ohio State,” Tucker said. “Dennis has been as high as Top 20 in the world junior doubles rankings and we look forward to working with this student athlete.”

Marc Wurtzman, Ohio State men’s tennis assistant coach, traveled to Belgium at the end of October to visit with Mertens and evaluate his talents.

“He (Wurtzman) is a great guy,” Mertens said. “I am glad he came to see to me practice. Three weeks later I visited Ohio State and knew that was where I wanted to be.”

Because of his No. 2-rank in Belgium, Mertens, since the age of 15, has been selected to compete in various international singles tournaments, which include a semifinals appearance at the Leeuwenbergh Open and a runner-up position at the Helsinki Open.

Mertens compiled many international doubles tournament victories’ including the International Junior Championship of Venezuela, the International Clermond-Ferrand Tournament, the Heiveld Junior Championship and the IPP Helsinki Open.

“We are very happy that Dennis has decided to sign at Ohio State,” Tucker said. “He brings a ton of international junior experience at the highest level and we hope that translates into success starting in January.”

“I think that I will be able to learn a great deal from him (Tucker),” said Mertens. “I believe that we have the same ideals about tennis. I am hoping to improve my game and I hate to lose.”