Participation in the NEC Wheelchair Tennis Masters was a terrific experience for Sonja. Although our hope of a place in the semi-finals was ultimately unfulfilled, nonetheless we can look back with a feeling of satisfaction. The great public interest and the rapport of the spectators was heart-warming; the pressure that accompanied it an enlightening experience.

The tournament
The NEC Wheelchair Tennis Masters, held in Eindhoven from 17 to 22 November, was the prestigious closing tournament of the wheelchair tennis season. The best eight men and women players in the world were invited, and with her fourth place in the world ranking Sonja was one of them. In her first match she was defeated by Esther Vergeer (who later won the tournament) 2-6, 6-2, 2-6. "I was pretty nervous, especially in the first set", Sonja told us after the match, "but how nice it was that so many people came to watch the game". The spectators were able to enjoy tennis at a very high level. In her second match against Yuaka Chokyo from Canada, Sonja could not find her form and lost, somewhat against expectations, 4-6, 4-6. She won her third match against the American Hope Lewellen with 5-7, 7-5, 6-1, but this was not enough to qualify for the semi-finals. Not a reason for Sonja to be downhearted for very long. For her the week was a fantastic and enlightening experience.

Media interest
Sonja's matches in her home town attracted an enthusiastic public which created a pleasant atmosphere. On Tuesday night some of Sonja's sponsors were also present and they were impressed by the game. The media also devoted considerable interest to Sonja. Lengthy articles with photographs appeared in the local newspaper Eindhovens Dagblad, which also published her results each day, and in other periodicals: Groot Eindhoven, De Trompetter and Wiekent Nieuws. Interviews were broadcast by the regional TV and radio stations Brabant TV and Omroep Brabant. The promotion stand of the Foundation, with video and sponsor billboard, attracted much attention, as too did the brochures of the sponsors and the Foundation itself.

Sonja receiving a big donation

Big donation
After her first match Sonja received a cheque for NLG 2,500. This big donation came from Stichting Gemeenschappelijk Woningbeheer Eindhoven, a local housing corporation. This year their annual staff outing was on the theme of team-building and included all kinds of sports activities. The winning team received a cash prize to be donated to a charitable cause of their choice. They decided to sponsor fellow-townswoman Sonja Peters because of their great admiration for her perseverance in wanting to be among the best in the world and to participate in the Paralympics in Sydney in the year 2000. A heart-warming gesture that gives Sonja an additional stimulus to really focus her efforts.

Webmaster Martijn van Mierlo made a page specially for the Masters which was updated daily with the order of play, results, press releases, etc. More than 80 hits within one week, from countries which included the Netherlands, Belgium, USA, Denmark, Japan, New Zealand and Indonesia, show that this was a successful initiative.

Preliminary team for the Paralympics
During the Wheelchair Tennis Masters, the NEBAS (the Dutch Association for Disabled Sports) presented the preliminary team for the Paralympics in Sydney. Sonja is in the group. The final selection is expected soon.

1999 Tournament schedule
Sonja's new season will start with the Sydney International Open at the end of January and the Australian Open in Melbourne in early February. The rest of the 1999 tournament schedule will be published in the next newsletter.

Thanks to all of you!
We wish to thank all of you for your fantastic support during the past season and also during the Masters. You may also have seen the message of thanks that was published on Monday, 23 November on the front page of the sports section of the Eindhovens Dagblad. We would like to take this opportunity to wish you and your family, also on behalf of Sonja, a Merry Christmas and a Happy 1999!