MTN

Gyms are considered a second home for athletes because they spend multiple hours training there every day.

When the COVID-19 pandemic reached the United States, it caused gyms across the country to close their doors for months. Brian Berdusco, a Florida men’s tennis player, is one of many Gators who had to improvise to stay in shape.

Berdusco said he has spent most of this offseason running to improve his endurance but wanted to work on other parts of his game. So, he turned to YouTube to find a tutorial on how to make his own squat rack.

His DIY projects don’t stop there, though.

Berdusco and his brother found inspiration to keep building from a CrossFit documentary on Netflix.

“Me and my brother watched it, and we got into it,” he said. “It's a lot of pull-ups with rings and rope climbing, so we set up a big rope climbing rope on our tree in our backyard, and we've been climbing it as a workout, just being creative with what we have.”

The rising senior is not the only collegiate athlete in his family. His oldest sister, Ellie, was a swimmer at Notre Dame from 2015 to 2018. Berdusco also has traveled with her to the beach to do open-water workouts.

Berdusco said that a normal offseason feels like they are still in-season because players are constantly traveling for tournaments. During the summer, the team also likes to take a class so they can return to campus to train with coaches.

This all changed when the COVID-19 pandemic turned the sports world upside down. The NCAA canceled all spring sports, ending Florida’s season. The Gators were supposed to play Georgia and Tennessee that upcoming weekend.

Berdusco said the team was disappointed when coach Bryan Shelton told them the season was over.

“Because we thought it was going to be their last opportunity to play,” he said. “We were all devastated, especially for the seniors. It kind of got taken away from them, so we're all pretty sad.”

However, this new reality hasn’t prevented Shelton and his staff from finding ways to make sure his squad is ready whenever sports resume. The strength coaches, trainers and nutritionists have sent players plans to keep them ready.

Athletes from other UF teams have conducted weekly Zoom meetings to stay in contact with each other. This is no different for the tennis team, except it has been a little less often.

Despite that, Berdusco stated the team has communicated with one another more than they have in past offseasons because they all have a consistent schedule due to the lack of tournaments.

Meanwhile, Shelton has preached to his team to not feel sorry for themselves because the world is in a similar predicament.

Berdusco said the team is ready to go whenever it is considered safe to play again.

“Even during this lockdown, everyone on the team is still extremely motivated to get better in any way,” Berdusco said. “When we get back on court as a team, we're right where we left off pretty much.”

Follow Zachary on Twitter @zacharyahuber and contact him at [email protected].

Zachary Huber covers men's tennis for the Alligator. This is his first semester working for The Alligator. He's a junior studying journalism at UF.