Newsletter No. 20 - January 2003

SONJA PETERS RUNNER-UP AT THE WHEELCHAIR TENNIS MASTERS AND SPORTSWOMAN OF THE YEAR!

Eindhoven Sportswoman of the Year.
Eindhoven Sportswoman of the Year.
For Sonja Peters the year 2002 ended in a big way: she reached the finals of the US Open but lost to Esther Vergeer; at the Wheelchair Tennis Masters she lost to Esther in the finals once more, in a match that ended with a nail-biting, tiebreak third set; and Sonja was voted Sportswoman of the Year 2002 of the city of Eindhoven.

US Open
The fact that Sonja is in good shape was demonstrated at the US Open where she reached the singles finals of this Super Series tournament. Unfortunately she lost to Esther Vergeer 3-6, 0-6. ‘It was a very good final’ Sonja told us. ‘I enjoyed my play, I have a good feeling about what I did and I kept hitting the ball well all through the match. Everyone else I could have played against I would have swept from the court... all except Esther! At the moment she is in a class on her own, not having lost a match for well over two years.’ In the doubles, Sonja teamed up with Daniela di Toro and lost in the semifinals.

NEC Wheelchair Tennis Masters
One of the highlights of the season is the Wheelchair Tennis Masters, when the best eight players in the world are invited to play for the title. None of the matches are easy. Sonja reached the final thanks to convincing though sometimes heavily fought wins over Janet McMorran, Maaike Smit, Chiyoko Ohmae and Djoke van Marum.

For the fifth time this year Sonja faced Esther Vergeer in a final. She lost, but with a marginal difference: 6-4, 4-6, 6-7 (3-7). The match was very attractive for the large crowd of around 1000 people, nerve-wracking for Sonja’s many fans and ultimately a huge disappointment for Sonja – and not only for her, considering how close she came to wining the title. After the last point, Sonja let her emotions run free and fought back the tears as she sent her racquet and cap flying through the air. A very understandable reaction when you have been so close to victory. However, Sonja soon realized that she can look back on an extremely good performance and a spectacular close to the season.

In the doubles, Sonja and her partner, Jiske Griffioen, were eliminated in the semifinals.
At the end of the season, Sonja is fourth in the women’s singles world ranking and ranked fifth in the doubles.

Sportswoman of the Year 2002
Sonja has been elected Sportswoman of the Year 2002 of the City of Eindhoven. She received this prestigious award for her excellent performance over the past season. Illustrious earlier winners have included Olympic medallists Inge de Bruijn and Anky van Grunsven. The award is a co-production of the local newspaper Eindhovens Dagblad and the City of Eindhoven. Sonja was presented with the award during a spectacular Sports Gala night by Paul Haarhuis, doubles world champion and Wimbledon winner. We are very proud of Sonja and this well-deserved acknowledgement of her achievements!

Planning 2003
The planning for 2003 has already been made and covers no less than twenty tournaments! The season starts at the end of January in Australia with the Wheelchair Tennis Classic 8s in Melbourne. This is a tournament for the best eight men and women players in the world and runs concurrently with the Australian Open Grand Slam tournament. It will be followed by the Sydney International and the Australian Open Wheelchair Tennis Championships in Melbourne. Sonja is already looking forward to it longingly, not in the least because of the glorious weather ‘down under’! The countdown to the 2004 Paralympics in Athens will start this summer, with the tournament results counting for qualification.

A very happy 2003 to you all!
Sonja and the ‘Foundation Friends of Wheelchair Tennis Player Sonja’ look back with great pleasure on the past season, also thanks to the enthusiastic support and abiding interest of everyone. Your support gives Sonja extra energy to reach her goals. We wish you all a happy and successful 2003!