Dostanic Makes Winning Return At Lakewood SoCal Pro Series Event

Stefan Dostanic (photo: Jon Mulvey/USTA SoCal)

LAKEWOOD, Calif., July 4, 2024 (by Steve Pratt)

One year ago, Stefan Dostanic was riding a tennis high. He had just beaten fellow Irvine resident and his USC teammate Learner Tien in a third-set tiebreaker classic at the Lakewood SoCal Pro Series event to inch that much closer to the summer series title and a qualifying wild card into the BNP Paribas Open.

Dostanic decided to take last fall off from college play and focus on pro events and after beating world top-125 player Zach Svajda at an east coast Challenger, the 22-year-old Dostanic took a set off Stevie Johnson at another Challenger before suffering a serious abdominal injury in mid-October that would require surgery and would cost him the first few months of his senior season for the Trojans.

Dostanic made it back just in time to cash in his wild card in mid-March at Indian Wells falling to world top-75 Sumit Nagal of India in straight sets. Two days later, Dostanic had X-rays that revealed a stress fracture in his left foot that required surgery and a screw to be inserted.

On Wednesday in the first round of two consecutive Lakewood SoCal Pro Series tourneys, the No. 3 seeded Dostanic made his long-awaited return to the courts taking out qualifier Spencer Johnson of UCLA, 7-5, 6-1.

“It felt exciting and I’m just so glad to be out here playing again,” said Dostanic, who meets 18-year-old Alexander Frusina in the second round Thursday. “It’s been a while and I was just back for a very brief moment, like a week and a half, before I got injured again.”

Still living at his parents’ home, Dostanic said he will be moving to Boca Raton, Fla., in two weeks where his longtime coach Vahe Assadourian is based to begin his rookie season on the pro tour.

“It’s a little bit of both, to be closer to my coach and a change of scenery,” Dostanic said. “It was good to get that first win under my belt. I just want to go out there and not have too high of expectations for myself.”

Former Arizona State All-American Jacob Bullard from Calabasas used his wild card to upset No. 7 Cash Hanzlik, 6-2, 6-2, in other first-round action at Lakwood. There were two more wild card winners on the day as UCLA sophomore Emon van Loben Sels from Sacramento earned his first ATP point with the 19-year-old beating Miles Jones from Marina Del Rey, 6-3, 1-6, 6-4. UC Irvine senior and wild card Noah Zamora took out No. 4 Keegan Smith, 6-4, 6-3.

The most decorated Southern California high school player fell in his bid to win his first ATP point as Niels Hoffmann of Newport Beach fell in three sets to Frusina. The Corona Del Mar graduate won both the Ojai Boys’ Interscholastic and CIF-SS Individual singles titles ending his prep career.

On the women’s side of play, top-seeded Jenna Defalco from Tustin needed two tiebreakers to beat Anita Sahdiieva from Ukraine. Former Pepperdine star Victoria Flores, the No. 2 seed and a semifinalist last week, was forced to retire down a set and 4-1 to Canada’s Jada Bui.