Oregon tennis player, 21, drowns

BLUE RIVER — Alex James Rovello, a 21-year-old junior tennis player at the University of Oregon, drowned Saturday afternoon in east Linn County, according to the Linn County Sheriff's Office.

Rovello was a Cleveland High School graduate and the son of Jim and Geri Rovello of Portland.

Sgt. Dave Lawler said Linn County Emergency Dispatch was contacted by Lane County 911 about 2 p.m. Saturday. Lane County reported being notified that a man who had jumped into Blue Pool from a 60-foot cliff at Tamolitch Falls. He had not surfaced.

Tamolitch Falls and Blue Pool are about two miles north of Trail Bridge Campground on Hwy. 126 near the Lane County border. Lawler said its about a 20-minute hike on a gentle trail to Blue Pool.

There were several men and women at the site, including UO football players and other athletes.

Witnesses told deputies it appeared Rovello hit the water with his face and upper chest.

Lawler said several attempts by friends and bystanders to save him were unsuccessful due to the depth of the victim and 37-degree water.

There is no cell phone service in the area and a witness had to run more two miles before he was able to get service to call 9-1-1 for help.

Deputies from both Linn and Lane counties responded and found the victim dead at the bottom of Blue Pool, about 30 to 40 feet from the surface.

Dive teams and search and rescue teams from Linn and Lane counties, the Linn County Sheriff's Mounted Posse, Eugene Mountain Rescue and Corvallis Mountain Rescue responded to recover the victim and worked until after midnight.

Alcohol did not appear to be a factor in the drowning.

Rovello's body was transported by Fisher Funeral Home in Albany pending further arrangements.

A junior at the University of Oregon, Rovello finished his high school tennis career undefeated with 50 wins and was the first tennis player in Oregon to win four consecutive state singles titles in high school.

He was 65-2 overall in the Pacific Northwest and was ranked number one in the Pacific Northwest and 24th in the nation at one time.

The 5-foot 9-inch, 150-pound Rovello chose the University of Oregon over several other colleges including Washington, Penn State, Boise State, New Mexico, Northwestern, San Diego and Santa Clara.

Rovello was a standout player for the Ducks, compiling a 39-27 singles and 36-18 doubles records in his first two seasons.

University of Oregon associate head tennis coach Jonas Piibor posted on his Facebook page, "R.I.P. Alex Rovello" and "I love you like my own son."


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