Grier’s Lucas earns tennis scholarship to SFU

TYRONE — There wasn’t another power outage to postpone it again.

A week after a power outage in Northern Blair County delayed her signing, Grier School senior Kristen Lucas, flanked by her parents, Tanya and Tim, and surrounded by her coach, grandmother and several friends, signed her letter of intent to attend Saint Francis University this fall to play tennis for the Red Flash.

Lucas said that the professors she visited with when she got onto campus helped her make the decision to stay close to home versus other programs considered such as Colgate, Lafayette, Lehigh and Case Western.

“I went up to visit with some professors a couple of times, and talking with them is what made me really consider the school,” Lucas said. “I considered it before, but it was sort of a last-minute decision.”

“Really, it was a combination of the tennis and academics,” Lucas said. “I really liked (Saint Francis coach Lisa Swope) and the professors.”

Lucas plans to major in biology pre-medicine with a minor in business analytics when she arrives in Loretto, with the intention to go on to medical school after she completes her undergraduate program.

She was a four-year starter for the Lady Foxes, a two-time member of the Altoona Mirror all-star first team, was ranked eighth at the Middle States U-16 for the United States Tennis Association and was undefeated in singles action over her final two seasons at Grier.

Outside of tennis, Lucas is a member of the Grier National Honor Society and Grier Ambassadors, which helps welcome new students to campus.

“It’s a lot of fun,” Lucas said of her time with Grier Ambassadors. “It’s really great meeting different cultures from all over the world.”

Grier tennis coach Kelly Forest has only been with Lucas the past two seasons, but even in that limited span, she has been able to see that Lucas had the focus needed to succeed at the next level.

“When I came in her junior year, she already decided in her mind that she was going to play tennis, and she’s committed,” Forest said.

“She joined a club, she has her own coach, so the team was sort of just an extra thing that she was doing just to keep playing and being part of the team,” Forest said. “But she was doing tournaments and having her own coach way before I was introduced to her as a coach.”

Forest said that Lucas’ biggest jump in growth came before the beginning of this school term, dating back to last summer.

“Her hitting, her serves. Just phenomenal,” Forest said. “It’s too hard to play with her because she’s just that good.”

Forest also spoke as to how big an occasion it is for the small private school, which usually takes a back-seat to Blair County neighbors Tyrone and Bellwood-Antis when athletics come to mind.

“This is awesome,” Forest said. “We have (Division I athletes) for horse riding here, but not usually for any of our other sports. This is great, this is good news for The Grier School.”

Lucas is believed to be the first player from Blair County to earn a Division I tennis scholarship since Altoona’s Caitlyn Baker, who attended Rutgers University from 2007 to 2010.