Men's Tennis

Scholar athletes Sally Kim and Rafael Da Luz honored by Exchange Club

Scholar athletes Sally Kim and Rafael Da Luz honored by Exchange Club

Irvine Valley's Scholar Athletes of the Year Sally Kim (women's golf) and Rafael Da Luz (men's tennis) were honored at a luncheon on Tuesday by the Exchange Club of Irvine at the Irvine Marriott.

Men's tennis coach Ross Duncan accepted on behalf of Da Luz, who was back home in Brazil.

Awards, commendations and $250 scholarship checks were given to the student athletes.

Kim was one of the best golfers to come through the Irvine Valley program.

"She's the best two-year athlete I have coached here with women's golf," IVC Coach Ben Burnett said. "She is a great player, but she has also been very reliable in her leadership and responsibility with the team."

The sophomore earned a number of accolades, including being named the Orange Empire Conference player of the year the past two seasons.

She helped the Lasers to a magical 2012 fall season in which the squad claimed the state title trophy, went undefeated in all matches and dominated in the Orange Empire Conference and at the regional and state events.

IVC beat its nearest competitor at the state tournament by 32 strokes. Kim had the team's low score on the final day of the state event at 3-over-par 75.

She tied for fifth in the individual standings at state.

The team title was the IVC golf program's second state triumph in the last three years.

Kim shared co-conference player of the year honors this past season with teammate Kate Cho. She had a scoring average during conference play of 74.8.

She was also named to the all-region and all-state teams.

As a freshman in the fall of 2011, Kim was named the conference player of the year and finished 10th in the individual competition at the state finals. She was the conference scoring leader with an average of 76.4.

She helped the team go undefeated in the Orange Empire Conference to win the title. The Lasers also finished third at the Southern California Regionals.

Kim was named Irvine Valley's female athlete of the year after the 2011-12 school year.

"She made it to state both years, which is a big accomplishment," Burnett said. "She went as an individual last year and then was a big reason why the team won the state title this year. She helped the team dominate and be what I think is the top women's community college program in the United States this year."

Off the course, Kim, who came to IVC from Cypress High, has been a two-year Irvine Valley Scholar Athlete. She received her AA in Liberal Studies recently.

She carried a 3.44 cumulative grade point average.

Kim has had several four-year golf scholarship offers, but is also considering taking a season off from school and playing in some professional level events as an amateur.

Da Luz has been one of the best players on the Irvine Valley men's tennis team the past two seasons.

Da Luz, originally from Brazil, played No. 1 singles for the Lasers this spring and helped this year's 2013 team to one of the best campaigns in school history.

Irvine Valley finished with a record of 13-4 this season. The Lasers won their last five matches of the season, including beating rival Saddleback, 5-4, to clinch second in the Orange Empire Conference.

The Lasers were ranked as high as No. 7 in Southern California and finished the season as the No. 13 team in the state in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association rankings.

"He was our No. 1 guy and so important to us," Duncan said. "It was always nice to know that he was going to be in that spot (in singles). He was also a very good teammate. He was one of the reasons this team had such good chemistry this year."

Da Luz made the postseason in both singles and doubles and went all the way to the state tournament.

He had a record of 11-8 in singles in dual matches – all played at the No. 1 position. Two of his losses came in tough three-set matches.

He ended up being ranked No. 32 in the final state rankings in singles.

In doubles, Da Luz had a record of 12-5 in dual matches. He played 15 matches at No. 2 singles and two matches at No. 1 singles.

He was ranked 45th in doubles with teammate Jaime Roman.

As a freshman last season, Da Luz had a record of 9-7 in singles in dual matches. He also received an award for the most important win during the 2012 season when he beat Saddleback's top player. He was the only IVC player last season to qualify through the conference finals.

"His forehand is his biggest strength," Duncan said. "He hits a heavy clay court-like forehand. It is a big weapon for him."

Off the courts, Da Luz has been a two-year Irvine Valley scholar athlete and he received his AA in Business Administration at the college recently.

He carried a 3.19 cumulative GPA.

He plans to play tennis at a Division I university in California and major in Business Administration.​

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