Photo caption:
Winner British Open Super Series

For Sonja, the year 2000 was a year of extremes. She won no less than five tournaments, including the prestigious British Open, climbed to third place in the single's world ranking list and qualified for the Sydney Paralympics. Then things went wrong, with the early defeat at the Paralympics as the absolute low. Sonja is now focusing on the future.

Sonja's elation over her qualification for the Paralympics was soon followed by a major disappointment. Her coach, Aad Zwaan, informed her that she was not selected for the double's tournament but that he preferred the combination of Esther Vergeer and Maaike Smit. As a consequence, the winning combination of Sonja and Esther, who together had ranked No. 1 in the double's world ranking list for quite some time, was split up for the Paralympics. But as a true top athlete, Sonja got over this setback and respected the choice of her coach.

Countdown to the Paralympics
After three weeks of absolute rest from the tennis court, as prescribed by trainer Aad Zwaan, it seemed that Sonja was finding it hard to find her form again. In the German Open she reached the semi-finals in the singles, as she did at the Disporta International. Suffering from symptoms of flu, she didn't get further than the quarter-finals in the US Open. On the day she returned to the Netherlands she was given a rousing send-off by an enthusiastic crown of some 10,000 supporters in Eindhoven!

Before her departure to the Paralympics, Sonya was presented with the "Success Book". She found it brilliant, but she also read it with tears in her eyes. Thanks to everyone for their contribution.

The colourful opening ceremony was an overwhelming musical show. The impressive climax, however, was the triumphal entry of the more than four thousand athletes from all over the world. "It was the big moment that literally gave many of us goose-pimples," says Sonja. "Through the door and then suddenly you are in the huge stadium where 120,000 people are clapping and shouting specially for you. There is nothing that can compare to that feeling. It's something I don't think I will ever forget..." During the live TV coverage, Sonja was very recognisable on the screen.

Sonja was pleased with the draw and as a seeded player she didn't have to play in the first round. Then, against all odds, disaster struck. In her first match, the American player Hope Lewellen - who Sonja had beaten easily earlier in the season but who had now played the match of her life - defeated Sonja.

What went wrong? "To be honest, I still don't really know", says Sonja reflectively. "Probably the atmosphere, the awareness that this tournament was so different, the tremendous desire to perform well... these factors probably had a major influence on me after all. I started the match well. But my opponent's standard of play was better than normal and that unbalanced me. I fought to the end, tried to make something out of it. Unfortunately it didn't work out and I lost. And then? Then the tournament was over for me, a shattered dream which you can't live over again the next time you go to sleep. It will be another four years before I get a chance like that again and during that time I will work hard to earn that chance and prove to myself in Athens that I can do it. For that is something I am sure of."

Wheelchair Tennis Masters
Immediately following the Paralympics, the Wheelchair Tennis Masters was held in Amersfoort, the Netherlands. It had been a long time since Sonja's tennis felt so good. However, in the singles she failed to qualify for the final. For the first time, the title was also at stake in the doubles. In the final, Sonja and Esther Vergeer lost to Daniela di Toro and Maaike Smit.

New web address
Thanks to the sponsoring of Hava, web- & processdesign, the site has a new address which is easy to remember: The site will be totally redesigned in the near future.

"I have had a good year, performed extremely well and although it felt rather different on the day I lost in the Paralympics, one bad match doesn't ruin everything. It doesn't mean that it's all been for nothing. I have had to work hard for this, but I wouldn't have made it without all those lovely and fantastic people who have stood behind me and supported me all that time. That's why I don't know how I can thank you for this. There are no words that can express my feelings about it. It's very special and very deep. I know I am not facing it alone and I am frequently amazed at how many people care about me and believe in me. It means so much to me, I cannot put it into words. The Paralympics was a very special experience, much of which I owe to you. LOTS AND LOTS OF THANKS!!!!!!"

Together with Sonja, we are now focusing on the future and wish you and your loved ones a Merry Christmas and a successful 2001.