Newsletter No. 23 - January 2004


Sonja ended her tennis season with fairly good results. Her trip to South Africa was an unforgettable experience. Totally unexpectedly, Sonja received a fantastic donation, which will certainly help her to achieve optimal preparation for a special year.

End of the 2003 season
Sonja ended the 2003 season in the singles by reaching the semi-finals in Hilton Head, USA, and with runner-up placings in Livorno, Italy, and Birmingham, again in the USA. At the US Open, Daniela di Toro took over her second spot in the world ranking by defeating her in the semi-finals. Despite playing good tennis, Sonja had disappointing early defeats in the Wheelchair Tennis Masters.
In the doubles, Sonja teamed up with Esther Vergeer to win in Livorno, and was runner-up in Birmingham and at the US Open with Daniela di Toro.
Sonja holds a firm third spot in the world ranking in the singles and second place in the doubles.

Wheelchair Tennis Silver Fund
As player ambassador of the Wheelchair Tennis Silver Fund, Sonja toured South Africa for two weeks. She conducted numerous tennis workshops in Cape Town and Johannesburg for both non-handicapped and handicapped white and coloured children. Sonja visited townships like Soweto and also made acquaintance with the so-called ‘shacks’. For her, it was an unforgettable experience to see this totally different world. It showed her how lucky she is, but also that the spirit of the people there has little to do with the circumstances in which they live. The courage and enthusiasm of these youngsters was overwhelming and heart-warming and motivated her enormously to do everything that she possibly could do to help them make one of their dreams come true… to play wheelchair tennis.
Sonja is convinced that her visit has made a big difference to these disadvantaged children and she will be returning for another week to see them again in February.

Fantastic donation
The experiences that Sonja gains from her sport can be useful in other areas, for instance in management training. Setting targets, perseverance, achieving top performance and coping with changes and disappointments are particularly suitable elements in that respect. Sonja has already contributed on several occasions to training courses of this nature, and she was invited to be a guest speaker at a ‘Convenience’ workshop early last December to speak before an audience of about 150 managers of leading companies in the field of convenience food and drinks.
Sonja’s contribution consisted of establishing a link between her experiences in top sport and how convenience can help to achieve success. At the end of her presentation, Sinterklaas (the Dutch version of Santa Claus) came on stage and handed a cheque for no less than 4,455 euros on behalf of all the members of Foodservice Network and the workshop participants! Totally dumbfounded, Sonja didn’t know what to say for a while, which is seldom the case with her! This contribution will certainly help her to make ideal preparations for the Paralympics and achieve optimal performance.

Programme for 2004
Sonja has scheduled quite a few tournaments for the coming season in order to maintain her position in the world rankings and to keep in shape. The season will start with the World Team Cup, the world championship for national teams, which is being held this year in New Zealand. Together with the Dutch team, Sonja will use her best efforts to retain the title. This is followed by three tournaments in Australia and ten more tournaments before the start of the Paralympics.

Public Relations
Sonja’s achievements don’t go unnoticed. Her results are published regularly in newspapers, weekly magazines and on teletext. Recently she was on Brabant Broadcast, where she was interviewed several times during a one-hour program. As studio guest of the week, she was phoned each day for short interviews on what she planned to do that day. In Harry Mens’ Sunday TV show ‘Business Class’, Sonja’s presentation at the Convenience workshop was mentioned as an example of how you can achieve great things notwithstanding a handicap. Sonja was also briefly on screen.

Extensive information on the website
The complete tournament planning for the whole year can be found on Sonja’s website (, plus an article written by Sonja giving a comprehensive impression of her visit to South Africa.

Special year The Paralympics year 2004 will be a special year for Sonja. It is a terrific experience to be able to participate in the Paralympics and Sonja will do everything within her power to make something special out of it. Sonja likewise wishes all her loyal sponsors, fans and all the other people who support her a very good year.

Together with the Dutch women’s team, Sonja has won the Invacare World Team Cup for the fifth time in her tennis career. More details about this world championship for national teams can be found on the website and in the next newsletter.