Storkel a positive example for young Greensburg Salem tennis

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Tuesday, September 14, 2021 | 2:40 PM


No matter what instrument you put in her hands, Paige Storkel can swing it.

Storkel, a junior at Greensburg Salem, is a talented two-sport athlete, excelling on the Golden Lions tennis and softball teams.

While she feels her future plans might lean more toward the diamond, she is no slouch on the court, reaching the WPIAL singles tournament and finishing third in Section 1-AA last season.

Now, with a little more experience, she hopes to build off of a successful 2020, emerging as a threat in Greensburg Salem’s lineup as its top singles player and part of the top doubles pair.

“Last year I think I did very well,” she said. “This year, I think that I’m progressing by just practicing and getting all kinds of new tricks and new serves in. Yeah, there’s new things coming.”

Storkel has worked hard on those serves, adding more spin to her delivery. Her dedication, as well as her hustle, has impressed Greensburg Salem coach Christopher Gazze.

“We have someone that can go out there and compete with the best players in the section, and that’s all you can ask for,” said Gazze, in his second season with the Golden Lions. “When she’s out there, it’s amazing the effort she puts on the court. I’m always impressed with the balls she gets to. She has an all-around game, and she can do everything very well. We’re excited with what she’s capable of doing this season.”

Storkel is the starting catcher for the school’s softball team, but her family tree blossoms with tennis players. Her aunt, Kim Kissell, is the coach at Seton Hill, and her cousin, Joellee Kissell, is Kim’s assistant. Those two coach Paige’s sister, Kasey, who was an accomplished player at Greensburg Salem.

The Storkel sisters played one season together, Paige’s freshman year in 2019. As a doubles tandem, they finished second in the WPIAL Class AA tournament and reached the PIAA postseason.

“I always relied on her when we played together,” Paige Storkel said of Kasey. “When I started playing alone, I started doing the things that she used to do and learned from what she did when I played with her. I learned to play on my own, without her, and that made me better.”

Gazze said Greensburg Salem is young this season. It returned just four players from 2020 but welcomed 12 players who are new to the team. Some of those players have been playing tennis for less than a month.

But the goal is for Storkel to help get the team back into the WPIAL postseason, which it missed in 2020.

“For myself, I want to pick up where I left off last year and make it to WPIALs again,” Storkel said. “With the team, I hope we can make it a little farther than last year, win matches and just do better.”

With Storkel’s experience and talent, it allows Gazze to be more hands-off with her development, giving him an opportunity to focus more on Greensburg Salem’s younger players. And Storkel, along with doubles partner and senior Chelsea Stabile, help with that, too, offering guidance to younger players.

“One thing we try to teach is footwork, getting to the ball and not staying stagnant out there,” Gazze said. “Paige gets to everything.

“Whenever they’re out there, they could make it not fun for the other girls. They give the inexperienced girls a chance to compete and give them balls they can return. They have fun with that. It’s good for everybody.”

Leadership, to Storkel, is not just about wins and losses, and that’s something she tries to convey to her teammates.

“I want them to have fun and not stress about playing and just have a good time while being there,” she said. “A bunch of my friends play, too. I want them to have a good experience with it.”

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