Top Janesville Craig doubles team has grown into the sport
The Storbakken file
Person I admire most: My parents (Kerry and Donna Storbakken).
Pregame routine: Make sure I wear the same bracelets; hit before match with Hailey.
Best sports memory: Made a game-winning basket in first grade in Milton.
Favorite pastime: Shopping.
Favorite movie: "Love and Basketball."
In 10 years, I'll be: Working in the medical or accounting field.
Best invention in the last 100 years: Computer.
Dream job: Pediatrician.
If I could play any other sport, it would be: Lacrosse.
Favorite all-time player (sports hero): Donald Driver.
My favorite saying: "Never, never, never give up."—Winston Churchill.
The Smith file
Person I admire most: My parents (Keith and Courtney Smith).
Pregame routine: Make sure I'm wearing same bracelets and necklace; hit before match with Taylor.
Best sports memory: Finishing second at national AAU basketball tournament in eighth grade.
TV show I never miss: "Cake Boss."
Favorite pastime: Baking goodies.
Favorite movie: "She's the Man."
In 10 years, I'll be: A psychologist.
Best invention in the last 100 years: Cell phone.
Dream job: Personal planner for a celebrity.
If I could play any other sport, it would be: Hockey.
Favorite all-time player (sports hero): Former UW basketball player Mike Kelley.
Heading into their freshman year at Janesville Craig High School, playing tennis was not high on the priority list for Hailey Smith and Taylor Storbakken.
Smith had to be coaxed by her mother to go out her freshman year. Storbakken figured it would be something to do in the fall to stay in shape for basketball.
After three years as Craig’s No. 1 doubles team, Smith and Storbakken can’t imagine life without tennis.
“I’ve grown to love it way more than I ever thought I would,” Smith said.
Storbakken, a junior, likes it so much, and her game has progressed enough, that she wouldn’t mind playing at the college level.
Smith and Storbakken are 13-0 this season but will be severely tested today against perennial Big Eight Conference powerhouse Madison West. The Cougars’ terrific twosome has not dropped a set in 13 matches, but was pushed in a 7-5, 6-2 win over Madison East’s Alie Mitchell and Anna Spiekerman on Tuesday.
As a senior and a four-year varsity player, Smith is the vocal leader on the court. Storbakken relishes her role as the quiet assassin. Both feed off the other’s strengths on the court, and being great friends off the court seems to fuel their play during a match.
After each point, Smith and Storbakken bang rackets and then give each other a high five. They’re quick to give support when the other hits a bad shot or when a forehand smash splits the opponent for a game-winner.
Storbakken said Smith’s strong play around the net and her ability to put “stuff” away can be the difference in a close match.
Smith believes Storbakken’s ability to see the court and keep balls in play can easily frustrate an opponent.
Craig coach Camilla Owen said it’s a combination of a little bit of everything that makes Smith and Storbakken among the best doubles team’s in school history. Owen said that was apparent early.
“When Hailey was a sophomore and Taylor a freshman, they played a couple of singles matches against each other, and they were very gutsy kind of matches where they both were doing everything they could to win,” Owen said. “So I decided to put them together to see what would happen as a doubles team, and before I knew it, they were 10-0.
“They just work very well together because of that familiarity they have with each other on the court. And they’ve worked hard to improve on all aspects of their game.”
The one thing missing from Smith and Storbakken’s resume is a trip to state. Despite being the No. 1 seed in the subsectional a year ago, they were upset. They vow that history won’t repeat.
“The one thing we learned is not to take any match for granted,” Smith said of the upset loss in tournament play a year ago.
Storbakken said the key to a state berth is to keep working throughout the season. She believes the downfall a year ago was getting to the tournament with a good record and a top seed, then thinking that would be enough to get to state.
As a result, Smith and Storbakken are on a mission this season. And no one’s been able to slow it down so far.