Oregon AD Rob Mullens: 'He was a great tennis player, son, teammate and a remarkable person'

by: COURTESY OF UNIVERSITY OF OREGON - The Oregon Ducks tennis team and coaches surround Jim and Geri Rovello, parents of former Ducks star Alex Rovello, as the U of O dedicates center court at the Student Tennis Center in honor of the late prep champion from Cleveland High.EUGENE — Center court on the north side of the University of Oregon's Student Tennis Center is now Alex Rovello Court.

The U of O dedicated it to the late Ducks tennis star from Cleveland High on Saturday in a private ceremony for more than 200 friends, family, teammates and others at the school.

UO tennis coaches Nils Schyllander and assistant Jonas Piibor, Ducks senior tennis player Robin Cambier and Oregon athletic director Rob Mullens were among those who spoke at the ceremony about Rovello, who died last spring in a diving accident not far from Eugene.

The event also raised more than $1,600 for the UO Men’s Tennis Foundation and the newly formed Alex Rovello Award.

In his three years at Oregon, Rovello played all but one of his career indoor matches on the newly named Alex Rovello Court.

“He was a great tennis player, son, teammate and a remarkable person,” Mullens said. “He left his mark on this university in so many ways, and it’s only appropriate that we are on this very court having this ceremony in his honor.”

Schyllander said that coaching is worth it because of people like Rovello, a four-time Class 5A champion who was 55-0 in singles while at Cleveland.

“There were so many magical moments that were created by Alex right here on this very court,” Schyllander said. “He helped this program make huge strides on this court, and he did it with class and integrity. This court is so special all because an incredible person gave us so many special moments. Those moments will live on forever. He will never be forgotten.”

Rovello was the first recruit that associate head coach Jonas Piibor signed at Oregon, as Rovello committed to be a Duck before the 2010-11 season.

Piibor recalled watching Rovello grow into a remarkable man and noted the lasting impact he created for so many people.

“Geri and Jim (Rovello’s parents), I promised that your son would became a special man here, and he did — Alex grew up to be a truly great man and a great ambassador for this university,” Piibor said. “I’m so lucky to have coached Alex Rovello, and he will always, always be the person that brought a smile to my face every day.”

Cambier, one of Rovello's closest friends, has been selected by the coaching staff to compete on Alex Rovello Court in the upcoming dual season. Cambier spoke about the honor of competing on his friend's court, and shared a laugh with the crowd after saying he needs to be on his best behavior to match the positive attitude of his former teammate.

“I competed on the other side of Alex and couldn’t see him play, but I could always hear him yell after a point, and would yell ‘Go Alex!’ back at him,” said Cambier. “I need to take it to heart playing on his court, and I absolutely will do that.”

Jim Rovello shared many tales about Alex’s playing days and remembered giving him a big hug in the UO parking lot after the final match last season — the last time he would see him.

There are three things he would tell Alex if he could see him again:

"I love you, I’m so proud to be your father, and lastly, they put your name on the court — how about that?"

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