Friends and family are remembering a star tennis player from the University of Oregon who drowned Saturday afternoon in Linn County.
Investigators said Alex Rovello, 21, jumped off a 60-foot cliff into the blue pool at Tamolitch Falls and hit the water with his face and chest and never surfaced.
Friends tried to save him but the 37 degree water was too deep.
Rovello was a graduate from Cleveland High School in 2010 and then accepted an athletic scholarship to the University of Oregon.
Friends and family said he was a great tennis player but and even better person.
"I was expecting him to try to go play professional after college. He was that good," said Walter Seidel, one of Rovello's friends.
Seidel is the tennis director at the Irvington Club and he met Rovello about five years ago. The two friends practiced together almost every week.
"The thing with him that was different to all the other tennis players is he was humble and he just never walked around like he was the best out there, and you don't get a lot of tennis players like that," said Rovello.
At just two-years-old, Rovello first picked up a tennis racket and never put it down.
He grew up practicing on this court at Berkeley Park near his home in southeast Portland.
Over the years, the medals and awards piled up. All of them are still hanging on the wall in his bedroom.
Former coaches said Rovello left a lasting legacy in high school tennis.
He became the first player in state history to win four state championships all before graduating high school.
Word of his tragic death is spreading on Facebook and Twitter. Along with several messages, the U of O Athletics Department said he touched so many lives.
The university's tennis coach also released a statement saying, "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."
His parents were too upset to talk on camera, but described their son as a good person who was respectful, hardworking and humble.
"The tennis is what people associate him with but when you talk to him you see a lot more than just the tennis. I'm going to miss him as a person and a great guy and that's where it hurts the most," said Seidel.
A memorial service for Alex is planned for Saturday, May 18th at 1 p.m. at Saint Philip Neri Parish at 2408 SE 16th, Portland.
His family says it's open to anyone who would like to attend.
A memorial fund has also been established at Wells Fargo called the "Alex Rovello Memorial - Berkeley Park Tennis Donation Fund."
Donations will go toward renovating the tennis courts at Berkeley Park, where Alex grew up practicing tennis. The account number is 1070674971 or you can simply mention the name of the fund at any Wells Fargo branch.
Copyright 2013 KPTV-KPDX Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved.
Thursday, July 31 2014 11:57 AM EDT2014-07-31 15:57:19 GMT
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