Homework is something Ella Hancock will have to get used to next year.
The senior, who has come through the last two state tennis tournaments for Rapid City Christian en route to winning back-to-back singles and doubles championships, is set for a whole new experience after pledging to continue her tennis career at the University of Sioux Falls. .
A lifelong student at home, Hancock prepared for a more traditional upbringing, such as taking classes and interacting with her fellow students on a daily basis. That’s part of why she chose a smaller school like USF and its roughly 1,100 enrollments, and on Wednesday afternoon she made her commitment official by signing her national Letter of Intent.
“Everything is going to be bigger than my living room,” she laughed. “So I think that’s school for me.”
Hancock wasn’t alone on her signing day, as she was joined by her doubles partner Hannah Beckloff, who won the Vol 1 doubles title with Hancock last October and finished third in Vol 2 singles. Beckloff signed with Northwestern College, a Christian liberal arts school in Orange City, Iowa, the same school with which Lady Comets alumnus Julia Anderson, who won the double state championship with Hancock in 2020, signed last November.
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“It’s a bit overwhelming,” Beckloff said. “But super exciting to know that I’m going to go to college and play tennis for the Lord.”
Hancock, who plans to major in both exercise science and psychology and become a physical therapist, initially thought her college search would be stressful, until she found her way to the USF campus. She met the tennis program coaches, saw the team play, and felt called to go.
“There were a lot of signs and points calling me to it, and I just believed it was God through it all, so it gave me a lot of confidence in my decision,” she said. “I was really lucky and blessed to be able to feel so good through the process.”
The process for Beckloff, who plans to study nursing, was a little more grueling, she said, as several schools had reached out to enroll her. So she sought advice from mentors, her family, and especially her coaches, who helped her navigate her decision.
She eventually landed on Northwestern because of her tennis coaches, who stayed in constant communication with her.
“It will make me grow with new relationships with people and improve my tennis skills,” she said. “I would like to win games, but if it doesn’t happen, that’s fine. I’ll learn from it and I think it will be a great experience overall.
Hancock admitted to being slightly nervous about playing college tennis, not because of the homeschooling adjustment, but simply in her desire to continue succeeding at the next level. Nevertheless, she is confident that she will always find happiness in sport.
“I know this is a step in the journey I wanted to do, so I’m excited. I just feel like I had a good career in high school, so I want to keep going and make it worth it,” she said. “I always want to find joy in whatever I do, and I know this is the place I can go and do that.”