Newsletter no. 24 June 2004


[Caption with photograph: World Champion with the Dutch women’s team]

Sonja’s nomination for the Paralympics is now definite. Together with the Dutch women’s team she became World Champion for the fifth time. Most of Sonja’s tournament results this year were really excellent, but she was less fortunate in some of her matches. She paid a second visit to South Africa, did some recording for television, and is now going to concentrate fully on the forthcoming Paralympics.

Thanks to her excellent performance, Sonja’s nomination for the Paralympic Games is now definite. The Games will be held in Athens from 17-28 September. This is a wonderful achievement for which she has worked extremely hard. Naturally, we are all very proud of her. At the end of August a special newsletter will be published, dedicated to this fantastic event.

World Team Cup
As a member of the Dutch women’s team, Sonja won the Invacare World Team Cup for the fifth time in her career. This world championship for national teams, which can be compared to the Davis Cup and the Fed Cup, was held this year in New Zealand. Over 30 countries competed. In the final against Switzerland, Sonja easily won her singles match 6-1, 6-2. The Dutch team, which was seeded first and consisted of Esther Vergeer, Maaike Smit, Jiske Griffioen , Sonja, and coaches Aad Zwaan and Ton Janssen, took the title without losing a set.

Other tournament results
Since January, Sonja has played in seven other tournaments with varying success. In the singles she had an unlucky draw in Melbourne and lost in the first round to Esther Vergeer. In Sydney she was troubled by an injury, but at the Australian Open Sonja showed she was back to her usual form by beating home favourite and world number two, Daniela di Toro, in sweltering conditions in a nerve-wracking three-setter: 7-6 (12), 3-6, 6-0. This earned her a place in the final of this Super Series tournament, in which she lost to fellow countrywoman Esther Vergeer. Nevertheless, Sonja has shown that she can perform very well in the sort of extreme weather conditions that can also occur in Athens. In Key Biscayne (USA) and in Japan, Sonja reached the semi-finals and was runner up in the Gateway Classic (USA). In the doubles, Sonja teamed up with Sharon Walraven (who will also be her partner at the Paralympics), which resulted in three runner-up results and one win.

Wheelchair Tennis Silver Fund
Early in March this year, Sonja paid a second visit to South Africa as player ambassador. Together with coach John Noakes and with the help of local assistants, Sonja gave a week’s intensive training to a group of selected wheelchair tennis players. Very tiring, but also rewarding considering the progress that was made. Two South African players will get a wild card for the Paralympics. At the end of this year, Sonja will return in the company of ex-international footballer and trainer Johan Cruijff, one of the sponsors of the Silver Fund, to visit projects in South Africa.

TV appearances
Together with coach Aad Zwaan and Jiske Griffioen, Sonja has made a number of TV recordings for a series of programmes that are to be broadcast later this year by the Dutch educational broadcasting organization Teleac NOT. They will show that a handicap does not necessarily exclude you from participating in active sports.

Preparations to the Paralympics
In the run-up to the Paralympics, Sonja will play tournaments in France, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and Italy. This will be followed by a training camp in Malta, after which the Dutch team will travel directly to Athens. Sonja is eagerly looking forward to it and is determined to achieve good results in both the singles and the doubles.

Since November 1998, Sonja’s website – – has attracted more than 25,000 visitors from all over the world, which shows that this source of information is well appreciated. As an example, here you can find Sonja’s tournament planning for the rest of the season.