Torero profile: Marta Stojanovic
MATTHEW ROBERSON | SPORTS EDITOR | @mroberson22
Marta Stojanovic is practicing with her University of San Diego teammates on a sunny Wednesday afternoon.
It is a normal day for Stojanovic, who moved to America from her native Serbian turf to pursue a career in collegiate tennis.
After practice she will jump back into the other field of life in which she excels, her academics.
Balancing an academic workload with practices and matches is nothing new for Stojanovic, a senior behavioral neuroscience major who complements her No. 1 spot on the USD tennis team with a 4.0 grade point average.
For an outsider, these accomplishments seem as though they’re bordering on impossible.
Finding time to study behavioral neuroscience at such a high level while also leading the tennis team is something that many college students would deem slightly insane.
Stojanovic merely says that it’s what she’s been doing for her whole life.
“I was kind of used to it, back home in Serbia we have that type of system as well,” Stojanovic said. “I went to a really good school [at home] and I also played tennis.”
Of course, being so fully involved in school and sports requires a high level of organization and planning for the weeks ahead.
Perhaps not surprisingly, Stojanovic is also skilled at figuring out when to devote her focus to certain activities.
“I was always good at doing exactly what I need to do at the time, and not putting it off,” Stojanovic said. “I feel like a lot of times when you’re actually really busy, that’s when you’re more efficient as well. There’s also a very good sports system here at USD that really helped me.”
In her most recent home performance, against the University of Pacific on Feb. 6, Stojanovic came away with victories in both singles and doubles play.
Her singles triumph came at the expense of Pacific’s Viktoriya Dzyuba, a freshman from Ukraine. Stojanovic was able to outlast her European counterpart by a score of 6-3 6-3.
Paired with senior Shani Blecher for doubles, the duo was able to easily defeat Pacific’s Katie Dyson and Maayan Sala to the tune of a 6-0 win.
Stojanovic is one of eight foreign players on USD’s roster. Despite having her roots over 6,400 miles away, Stojanovic assures that she had no doubts about coming to America to play tennis at the NCAA level.
“I knew I wanted to come to the USA because the system only exists here,” Stojanovic said. “To be able to go to university and play a sport, we don’t have that in Europe. So I knew I wanted to keep doing both [school and tennis], and that’s why I knew I wanted to come here [to the U.S.].”
Not only did Stojanovic achieve her goal of landing in the U.S., she ended up in one of the country’s most beautiful cities where the sun is out for nearly 70 percent of the year.
Although she had never been to San Diego before enrolling at USD, Stojanovic had several people in her ear pitching America’s Finest City.
“I mean I heard it was nice,” Stojanovic said. “I heard it was a good place, but that’s kind of [how it is] when you’re getting recruited from Europe and you don’t have the opportunity to come visit.”
She admitted that the decision to embark for San Diego was a calculated risk.
“It’s kind of like a gamble,” Stojanovic said. “You hope that it is what you hear it is.”
When asked how the city and school compare to her expectations, Stojanovic lights up and looks around at the ambiance that surrounds her on the USD campus.
“It’s nicer than I thought, actually. I didn’t know that the weather is this good,” Stojanovic said. “Everything is so nice. I heard it was nice, but it exceeded my expectations.”
The weather isn’t the only thing that has been nice to Stojanovic in her four years as a Torero. In her freshman year she put together a strong season that earned her an All-West Coast Conference Honorable Mention.
She also helped seal an upset over the No. 6 Nebraska Cornhuskers during that 2012-13 campaign, in addition to a momentous win over the San Francisco Dons in the WCC tournament quarterfinals.
After experiencing a bit of a sophomore slump in 2013-14, Stojanovic bounced back as a junior to lead the team with 14 singles wins.
She also earned her second straight WCC All-Academic selection and Inter Collegiate Tennis Scholar Athlete awards.
Her accolades received in the classroom have not gone unnoticed by her head coach Sherri Stephens.
“I am extremely impressed with the academic and athletic ability of one person,” Stephens said. “Marta has managed to maneuver two elite worlds and come out successful in the sense of student life and growth at USD.”
While Stojanovic is still unsure what life will hold for her after graduation, she has her sights set on finishing her senior year with a bang.
“In school I want to keep up with the good work,” Stojanovic said. “In tennis I really hope to have a good year with the team and also individually. I hope to get ranked with the team and do as best as we can in the conference.”
Whether she will make her way back to her beloved Serbia or remain in the U.S., one accomplishment that Stojanovic is proud of is her ability to spread knowledge of her home country to Americans who possess little to no knowledge about it.
“Yeah, you [Americans] don’t really know about it,” Stojanovic said. “Usually I get like, ‘Oh it’s really cold there?’ They mix it up with Siberia. It’s not that cold. But yeah, it’s not a very known country.”
If her homeland must remain clouded with mystery here in the states, Stojanovic can at least bring some notoriety to it by continuing her success on the tennis court and in the field of behavioral neuroscience.
For those looking to watch her in person, Stojanovic and the rest of the Toreros will be hosting the Hawaii Warriors on Feb. 18 before welcoming the Santa Clara Broncos on Feb. 20.