Men’s tennis rallies around teammate after family loss
Following the death of his mother Jan. 21, sophomore Gage Brymer said that the game of tennis is like therapy for him. (Daily Bruin file photo)
January 28, 2015, 2:03 am
The UCLA men’s tennis team is a brotherhood – on and off the court.
Sunday, the Bruins went to support fellow teammate Gage Brymer in a time of need.
Mary Brymer, Gage Brymer’s mother, died Jan. 21 at the age of 56 after battling non-Hodgkin lymphoma for the last six years. At her memorial service Sunday in Irvine, the whole UCLA team was in attendance.
“It was good that our entire team was there to support him and help him get through this,” said sophomore Joseph Di Giulio.
The Bruins wanted to be there to support Brymer and his family.
“I feel like our whole team here is like his second family,” said freshman Austin Rapp. “It helped him a lot. He wasn’t going it alone with just his dad.”
Brymer said when his mother was first diagnosed he didn’t tell a lot of people because he just didn’t want to talk about it much. He wasn’t sure just how many of his teammates knew. When his mother passed, however, his teammates were some of the first ones to contact him and offer support.
“I couldn’t ask for any more,” Brymer said. “I can never repay them for something like that, and then for all of them to make it out (to the memorial service) – it means the world to me. I love those guys. They’re my brothers.”
Mary Brymer was well known by everyone on the team. Both Rapp and Di Giulio described her as someone who would go out of her way to make someone’s day.
“I knew Mary pretty well because I trained with Gage when I was younger,” Di Giulio said. “(We) went to Woodbridge Academy and his mom was helping out every day. She would bring Jamba Juice or snacks; she would just do little things off the court that would just make your day – stuff she didn’t have to do.”
Brymer described his mother as a UCLA superfan who attended every single home match and all local away matches, cheering on her son and his Bruin teammates.
“She wasn’t a Bruin herself, but when I committed she became a Bruin through and through,” Brymer said. “She came to every single match. She was very supportive of my tennis growing up and in college. She was right there the whole way, even when she was sick, even when she was really, really not doing well she was still out here for every match.”
Brymer missed last week’s dual match against UC Irvine as well as the ITA Kick-Off Weekend due to his mother’s death. The sophomore is expected to return to the lineup this weekend in the Bruins’ next two dual matches in Athens, Ga.
“It was really tough for me to be away for those three matches,” Brymer said. “I think being back now for these next couple matches and the rest of the season, I think it’s not only something I want to do, it’s something I really have to do because I feel like I want to be there with the team. I love (the game) so much that it is … almost like therapy for me.”
Assistant coach Grant Chen said he is tremendously proud of the team for stepping up and being there for a fellow teammate. He said he knows Brymer will always be playing for his mother in his heart.
“I know he is going to be back strong playing for his mom,” Di Giulio said. “We are all kind of playing for her now.”