Newsletter No. 22 August 2003


A satisfied Sonja with good prospects
A satisfied Sonja
Thanks to her impressive results in the past few months, Sonja has moved up to the number two spot in the world rankings – her highest ranking ever. This gives her good prospects for the Paralympics. Sonja was also a member of the Dutch women’s team that won the Invacare World Team Cup.

Second spot in the world rankings After a slow start to the season, followed by three tournament wins, Sonja continued her winning momentum. Although she lost in Poland in the singles semi-final to world’s number two Maaike Smit, this was put right in the French Open when Sonja swept past Maaike in the final with virtually perfect power tennis: 6-1, 6-0. A quarterfinal in the Dutch Open and a semi-final place in the Belgian Open were followed by a good performance – almost traditional for Sonja – at the British Open. Sonja again defeated Maaike Smit, but in the final she lost to countrywoman Esther Vergeer. In Austria, Sonja reached the final once more but this time she met her match in Daniela di Toro.
As a reward for all her hard work and excellent results, Sonja has climbed to second spot in the world singles rankings, her highest ranking ever. Needless to say, Sonja is delighted with this. Sonja also did well in the doubles, with wins at the French Open and British Open and a runner-up placing in Belgium, which secured her third spot in the world doubles rankings.

Prospects for the Paralympics
Her excellent results this season have earned Sonja so many ranking points that her qualification for the Paralympics in Athens in 2004 is almost certain for the singles. Participation in the doubles is also a realistic prospect in view of her third spot in the world rankings.

World Champions
Sonja was a member of the Dutch women's team that displayed their traditional dominance and won the Invacare World Team Cup for the fourth time this year, without losing a single set. This wheelchair tennis championship for national teams – which can be compared to the Davis Cup and Fed Cup – was held in Sopot, Poland. The Dutch team consisted of Esther Vergeer, Maaike Smit, Sonja, and coach Piet Hermans. The next World Team Cup will be held in New Zealand in January 2004.

Wheelchair Tennis Silver Fund
During the Dutch Open the ITF Wheelchair Tennis Silver Fund was officially launched. This fund assists and supports less developed countries in setting up a wheelchair tennis programme through the donation of wheelchairs and other tennis equipment. An experienced coach will also visit the countries for a period of eight weeks, assisted by a player- ambassador. As a player-ambassador, Sonja – accompanied by former Olympic medallist Nelly Cooman of the Johan Cruijff Foundation, one of the sponsors of the Silver Fund, and ITF coach John Noakes – was symbolically presented with several wheelchairs and rackets donated by players. After this, Sonja played an exhibition match in front of an enthusiastic crowd which included representatives of the press and television. Later this year Sonja will go to South Africa to support John Noakes.

Website Sonja’s website is visited by people from all over the world. A few weeks ago a new milestone was reached: the 20.000th visitor since November 1998! Our sincere thanks go to Webmaster Paul Kuijken.