WALLA WALLA, Wash. -- Steven Ly, a senior tennis captain who was voted to the All-Northwest Conference First Team in each of his four seasons, is the 2007 recipient of the R.V. Borleske Trophy, which is presented annually to the top male athlete at Whitman College.
The trophy, awarded by a vote of the Whitman coaching staff, recognizes athletic ability and accomplishments, leadership and sportsmanship qualities, and contributions to the campus as a whole.
Ly, who played at No. 1 singles and No. 1 doubles for most of his college career, collected a total of 139 career victories at Whitman, which ranks him fourth on the school's all-time victory list. He and two senior teammates, Phalkun Mam and Robbie Munday, led Whitman to a No. 12 national ranking this spring and a berth in the NCAA National Championship Tournament. The Missionaries, who fell one win short of the national quarterfinals, finished with a 24-8 record -- Whitman's best record in more than two decades.
Ly was one of four Whitman players who earned NWC Player of the Week honors this spring as the Missionaries rolled to an unblemished 16-0 record during the NWC regular season. Whitman's bid for its second conference championship in four years fell just a bit short, however, when the Missionaries were upset in the title match of the conference tournament.
A graduate of Centennial High School in Gresham, Ore., Ly made an immediate impact at Whitman, playing No. 1 singles in his freshman season as the Missionaries won the NWC title. He continued to play in the top singles spot for the next two seasons, and he emerged as a junior as the dominant player in the conference. He was twice named NWC Player of the Week as a junior, and he capped that season by winning Player of the Year honors. He was the only NWC player invited to the 2006 NCAA Div. III National Singles Championship Tournament.
"Steven has been a class act, both on and off the court," Whitman tennis coach Jeff Northam said. "When he competes, he is the model of grace and dignity. He is perhaps the best sportsman I have ever seen play Division III tennis."
Showing a bit of that class, Ly stepped aside this spring as Phalkun Mam, his doubles partner, played No. 1 singles. Ly rolled through a strong season at No. 2 singles and was named his team's Most Inspirational Player.
In addition to handing out the Borleske Trophy to each year's top male athlete, the Whitman coaching staff also gives annual "Outstanding Performer" awards to one male athlete in each class. Ly won that award as freshman, sophomore and junior.
Ly, a biology major at Whitman, is the son of Truc Ly and Cynthia Le of Fairview, Ore. Ly plans to stay on campus next academic, serving as an assistant coach for the men's tennis team, as he applies to graduate pharmacy programs.
The Borleske Trophy honors Raymond V. Borleske, who achieved legendary status as an athlete and later as a coach at Whitman during the first half of the 20th century. He starred on Whitman's football and baseball teams, and he was the first football player from the Northwest to be recognized by Walter Camp's Spaulding Football Guide. After graduating from Whitman and earning a law degree, Borleske returned to campus in 1915 to begin a coaching career that continued until 1947.
For a complete listing of past Borleske Trophy winners, please click here.