Ohio State women’s tennis player Francesca Di Lorenzo, who was the Big Ten Player of the Year as a freshman and sophomore, is forgoing her final two years of eligibility to turn professional.

“This has been her dream her entire life,” Buckeyes coach Melissa Schaub said. “Even though we’re obviously going be sad to see her go and would have loved for her to stay, as a coach you want to try to help kids reach their goals and dreams. This is hers and always has been hers.”

The New Albany native teamed with Miho Kowase to win the 2017 NCAA doubles championship last year, which was the first national title for the OSU women’s team. Di Lorenzo twice won the USTA/ITA National Indoor Championship and won the ITA Riviera All-American title in the fall of 2016. She was named the OSU Female Athlete of the Year in 2017.

Di Lorenzo took the fall semester off from Ohio State and has been training in Orlando, Fla.

“My decision to leave school and pursue my dream of being a professional tennis player has been the most difficult decision I’ve ever had to make,” Di Lorenzo said in an OSU press release. “I could not figure out why it was so challenging to simply turn pro and commit to something I have been dreaming about since I was 10.

“After taking the fall off and thinking about this grueling decision nonstop every day, I was finally able to understand why it was so difficult for me. Ohio State has given me everything I could have possibly imagined. The coaches, team, trainers, support staff and friendships I have made here are what have made my experience so exceptional.”

Di Lorenzo had a 74-7 singles record, though she had disappointing early exits both years in the NCAA singles tournament. She also was a CoSIDA Academic All-American and Big Ten Distinguished Scholar.

Di Lorenzo is ranked 305th in the world rankings in singles and 352nd in doubles.

“I think Francesca is ready,” Schaub said. “She has that grit. She has the fire. She loves the lifestyle. I think she’ll be playing tennis for a long time. She’s willing to stay out there and gut it out.”

Di Lorenzo’s departure leaves a major void on the OSU team, which lost four integral seniors from last year’s team.

“If someone leaves like this, people are definitely going to have to step up,” Schaub said. “But we have a good group that’s ready to do that. You can’t replace Francesca. That’s not going to happen.”