Tennis players,coaches reflect on adding recreational team, “Ex-O Squad,” to accommodate larger team size

Satvik Kandru

Carmel tennis is one of the few “no-cut” sports at this school. That itself can create a problem unique to the sport: a lack of space to accommodate all of the players on the team.

Apurva Manas
Bonding over forehands:
Jordan Venckus, Ex-O squad member and senior, hits a forehand during a drill in one of Ex-O’s practice. Venckus said after participating in the Ex-O squad, he has made a lot more friends and hitting partners.

To combat that problem, former Head Coach Spencer Fields added the “Ex-O Squad,” formerly known as the exhibition section of the team. This addition brought many more recreational tennis players to the team than previous years.

“A lot of them have liked tennis for a while, and we just try to give them an opportunity to pick up a racquet and get to compete unlike other cut sports,” current head coach Bryan Hanan said.

Many Ex-O players believe this proper balance of recreation and competition makes for a perfect experience on the tennis team.

“I think Ex-O gives us more flexibility as players in regards to practice and matches, but I think Ex-O is just invested in the success of Carmel tennis because we try our hardest and support our team,” Abraham Fiore, first-year member and senior, said.

Non-Ex-O players on the team also said they believe the Ex-O squad helps to add to the team community and atmosphere, and help increase attendance to tennis matches.

Timmy Dixon, varsity tennis player and senior, said, “Many kids on the Ex-O squad bring lots of energy and enthusiasm to the matches and practice and are also the most hype people on the team. The team rallies behind these guys whenever they play because of the support they give back to the rest of the team.”

Even with this recreational aspect, the players said they still believe that Ex-O tennis should be held in its own regard compared to other sports.

Apurva Manas
Casual Competition:
Abraham Fiore, Ex-O squad member and senior, hits a forehand during a practice match in one of Ex-O’s practice. Fiore said the team helps them with their game while also keeping it casual when they play.

“Compared to other sports I’ve played competitively in the past, the main difference with Ex-O tennis is honestly that in tennis, I have more of a drive to win each match I get to play solely because it’s a special opportunity, whereas with other sports that I’m undoubtedly better at, I still want to win, but I know that there isn’t a chance that it will be my last game or match ever,” Jordan Venckus, first-year member and senior, said.

Venckus and Fiore also said they believe that the coaches are great mentors for them as Ex-O players.

“The coaches check up on us a good amount and watch a few points,” Venckus said. “They’re always pointing out just little things that we could be doing differently which can be helpful. It’s nice to see that they care about us.”

Hanan also said he believes that Ex-O is evaluated on a year-to-year basis in regards to terminating or keeping the squad.

“A big issue is accommodation because we only have fourteen courts, and a lot of those are usually saved up for our varsity guys because our ultimate goal is to house the varsity players and compete at a state level every year,” Hanan said.

However, Hanan said he believes the Ex-O squad will remain for years to come.