Tennis Player Drowns: Alex Rovello, 21, Falls Off 60-Foot Cliff Into Freezing Water

By Staff Reporter on May 13, 2013 3:54 PM EDT

Alex Rovella
Tennis player Alex Rovella, right, with University of Oregon tennis teammate, Pepe Izquierdo. (Photo: Facebook)

A star tennis player drowns at Tamolitch Falls in Willamette National Forest in western Oregon on Saturday. Alex Rovello of the University of Oregon was 21 years old.

According to eyewitnesses, Rovello leaped from a 60-foot cliff and struck water with his face and upper chest, which likely knocked him unconscious. Due to the deep and frigid 37-degree water, Rovello's friends and other bystanders were unable to reach his body, reported local news station KGW.

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Sprinting for help, a witness ran for two miles before mobile service was strong enough to dial 911 at 2 p.m., Saturday. Unfortunately, it took rescuers until midnight before Rovello's body was retrieved by dive teams. Alex Rovello's body was more than 30 feet from the surface of Tamolitch Falls .

According to reports by The Oregonian, the police do not believe alcohol or foul play were factors in Rovello's death. 

"Everyone loved him and he was just always so nice," friend Lauren James told The Oregonian. "He could light up a room with his smile."

An average 21-year-old, Alex Rovello was a hardworking college student that had a lot of friends. Unlike his peers, Rovello was an extremely talented tennis player as well.

Alex Rovello finished his career as a tennis player for Cleveland High School with a remarkable 50-0 singles record. The first high school athlete in his state to win four singles titles, Rovello ranked No. 24 nationwide and has won two Pacific Cup titles as well.

This past season, Alex Rovella boasted a 21-8 match record for his college. In doubles, Rovella and team partner Daan Maasland, earned 16 doubles match victories, the eighth most successful player in the University of Oregon's history.

"Alex was so much more than a dedicated and exemplary student-athlete at the University of Oregon," said Director of Athletics Rob Mullens said. "He was a son, 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."

Rovello's body was taken to a funeral home in Albany. The Rovello family will conduct a memorial service for Alex on Saturday, May 18.

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