Newsletter No. 16, mei 2001

Invacare T-3
Photo caption:
Incredibly light Invacare Top End T-3

After the Paralympics, Sonja Peters and the Foundation are making a fresh start. In the first half of the year, Sonja is doing practical training as part of her study. After that she will be able to give full attention to tennis again. Invacare, a world leader in wheelchairs, is sponsoring Sonja with an incredibly light chair. Acting on the advice of her coach, Aad Zwaan, the doubles combination with Esther Vergeer has come to an end. The Board of the Foundation has also changed. Unchanged, however, is Sonja's ambition to stay at the top of world tennis.

Time for study
Sonja is now a 5th grade student in psychology at the Free University of Amsterdam where she is studying paediatric neuropsychology. During the first part of the year, Sonja is doing practical training (a compulsory part of her study) at the Paedological Institute in Duivendrecht. This is a psychiatric institute for children with mental problems. Sonja is focusing on diagnostics and she also assists with remedial reading treatment for dyslectic children. She is very enthusiastic and is now absolutely sure that she has chosen the right study.

New equipment
Invacare, a world leader in wheelchairs, is convinced that Sonja has got what it takes and, starting this year, is sponsoring her with equipment. In St. Petersburg, Florida, a wheelchair was made-to-measure and produced in a few days. It fits Sonja perfectly, resulting in optimal mobility. Weighing in at 7.2 kg — an astounding 2.3 kg lighter than her previous wheelchair — the low total weight of the Invacare chair is incredible. Thanks to the special Spinergy wheels with plastic spokes, the weight is localised even closer to the wheel axle, causing the wheels to keep on turning better than before. The chair is so fast and manoeuvrable that it took Sonja quite some time to get used to initially; she was often so fast that she got there before the ball!

An end to the doubles combination with Esther Vergeer
Following the advice of her coach, Aad Zwaan, an end has come to the doubles combination of Sonja and Esther Vergeer. For several reasons, Aad thinks it is better for Esther to double with someone else and for Sonja to give up doubles play for a while and concentrate exclusively on the singles. For both of them it was a difficult decision. After all, they have been playing together since they first started to play wheelchair tennis - now well over six years ago. Besides that, they are also very good friends. With their winning combination they have led the world ranking list for over two years. We wish Esther the best of luck for the future.

Owing to the illness of her coach, Aad Zwaan, Sonja was unable to train to optimal effect in the recent past period. Aad was hospitalised for a long time and although he is home now it will be some time before he is fully recovered. Meanwhile, in a typical demonstration of his commitment, assistant coach Ton Jansen has spared no efforts to ensure that the training carries on as well and as often as possible. Unfortunately this could not always be the case because he had his own schedule to complete as well, so sometimes the training had to be cancelled.

Tournament schedule
Owing to her practical training, Sonja will have to miss a number of important tournaments. Because of this, she will initially not be able to maintain her third spot in the world ranking list. In May, the Lakeshore World Challenge is planned in Birmingham, USA, and June 15-17 the Brabant Open in Valkenswaard, the Netherlands. On Sunday June 17, we look forward to welcoming you to Valkenswaard, where the Board of the Foundation will also be present from 12 to 2 p.m. You can check out the website to see whether Sonja will actually be playing at that time.
Starting the end of June a large number of international tournaments are planned, a total of 16 in all. The ambition to keep up with the world top remains unchanged! Sonja's longer-term target is to participate in the 2004 Paralympics in Athens.

Changes to the Board
In the more than five years of its existence, the ‘Foundation Friends of Wheelchair Tennis Player Sonja’ has supported Sonja on her way to the world top and participation in the Paralympics. Chairman Jack van Vlerken, secretary Willem Versteege and treasurer Jan Peters have put in a lot of their time and energy, for which Sonja and the other persons concerned are very grateful. Now the Board is passing the torch to a new team. Successors have been found in Gerard Tournoij (treasurer) and Fenny Keller (secretary). While the position of chairman is still vacant, Jack van Vlerken will nonetheless continue to take care of sponsor contacts.

With the introduction of the new Web address, Webmaster Martijn van Mierlo has given the site a major revamp. Using convenient scroll menus, everything can now be found easily both in Dutch and in English. Just take a look at the complete tournament schedule and leave a message or give your opinion about the site in the visitors-book, which is a recent addition to the site.