University of Oregon tennis player Alex Rovello died Saturday at Tamolitch Falls near the Trailbridge Campground, the Linn County Sheriff’s Office said. The 21-year-old Rovello was a junior journalism major at the UO.
Update, 5:52 p.m.: The Oregon athletic department released a statement regarding Rovello’s death Sunday afternoon.
“The Oregon tennis family is devastated by the loss of Alex,” said Nils Schyllander, Head Men’s Tennis Coach. “He was an amazing person and teammate and his spirit will live on forever with all of us who were fortunate enough to have known him. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his parents, Geri and Jim Rovello, and to the entire family.”
Athletics officials confirmed the Rovello family is planning a memorial service for Sat., May 18, at St. Philip Neri Catholic Church in Portland, Ore.
“Alex was so much more than a dedicated and exemplary student-athlete at the University of Oregon,” Director of Athletics Rob Mullens said. “He was a son, a brother, a friend, a teammate, a leader, whose warm personality brought everyone together and whose contributions to the extended Oregon community will resonate long after today. On behalf of the UO family, we extend our sympathies to Alex’s family, and we will honor his memory each and every day.”
Around 2 p.m. on Saturday, Linn County Emergency Dispatch received a 911 call requesting emergency assistance for a man who had jumped from a 60-foot cliff into the Tamolitch Pool (also known as the Blue Pool) on the McKenzie River Trail and had not resurfaced.
Witnesses at the scene told responders that he hit the water with his face and upper chest. Attempts by bystanders and friends to rescue him were difficult and ultimately unsuccessful due to his depth in the water and the 37-degree water.
A witness had to run nearly two miles to make the 911 call as there is no cell service in the immediate area. The Linn County Sheriff’s Office said alcohol did not appear to be a factor in the drowning.
UO men’s tennis assistant coach, posted “R.I.P. Alex Rovello” on Facebook earlier Saturday night.
Rovello hailed from Portland’s Cleveland High School and was one of the top tennis players ever to come out of the state. He won four consecutive state titles and finished his high school career without ever recording a loss — 50-0. He also appeared in the June 14, 2010, edition of “Sports Illustrated” in their “Faces in the Crowd” feature. At one point, he was ranked No. 24 in the country.
He has been written about frequently by the Emerald during his tennis career at Oregon. Here are more stories on him.