|Sonja's speech at the sportgala 2002||
On Monday December 9, Sonja was awarded Sportswoman of the Year 2002 of the city of Eindhoven. She received the beautiful handblown glass trophy from the hands of tennis player, doubles world champion and Wimbledon winner, Paul Haarhuis. Sonja is very pleased with this acknowledgement of her achievements.
Wheelchair Tennis player Sonja Peters was honoured as Sportswoman of the Year 2002. For the men this prize went to Pieter van den Hoogenband because of his good performance at the European Championships in Berlin.
The only prize winner that held a spontaneous speech on the stage was Sonja Peters. "Thank you very much for choosing me, this really means a lot to me. Wheelchair tennis always has been a supposititious child and therefore I am pleased with the attention to this sport" she radiantly spoke into the microphone. She was surrounded by the selection of the Oranje Zwart hockey team. The hockey players, winner of Europ Cup II and the Dutch Indoor title, were honoured as the Sportsteam of the past year. The team was also nominated for the Team of the Decennium, but that honour went -and that was no big surprise- to the PSV soccerteam.
|All honourees sportawards 2002|
Sonja at the award ceremony of the Masters 2002
|In the finals of the NEC Wheelchair Tennis Masters Sonja has lost to Esther Vergeer with a minimal margin. Such a pity, there were so many people who really wanted to see her win!|
The final was very attractive for the large crowd of around 1000 people, nervewrecking for the many fans of Sonja and a big disappointment for Sonja, and not only for her, considering that she was so close to the title.
Sonja played very focussed and determined and this way she beat a nervous Esther Vergeer first set: 6-4. At a lead of 4-2 in the second set unconsciously some nerves started to play up. Nevertheless Sonja kept hitting the ball well, but Esther could take over the initiative and equal the score by winning 4-6. The third set went very evenly with the initiative at Sonja’s side most of the time. At 5-4 she could serve for the match but with some precise passing strokes Esther evened the score once more. Finally in the tiebreak Esther managed to have that little extra and finished the match at 7-3. After the last point Sonja set free all the tension and emotions during the match with a racket and cap flying through the air. Very understandable when you have been that close to such a win.
In the interview for the public right after the match Sonja told: ‘Normally I am not that angry after a match, but the match had so much tension and was so nerve-eating. It has been such a long time since I was so close to beating Esther. I started the match with the feeling that I had nothing to loose, but at the moment that I came close I nevertheless got the feeling I had something to loose. Yes, I am very disappointed. But I found it a pleasant matc, a good match. I have the feeling that I kept playing tennis well and hitting the ball. I did notice that Esther was nervous, but I find it her strong point that at the end she can find that little extra and finish it up’ At the question how long she will take to deal with the loss she answers: ‘Not very long. I am going to retire now for a short while, but then I will be around again’.
At the US Open in San Diego Sonja finished as runner up. In the finals of this Super Series tournament she lost to Esther Vergeer 6-3, 6-0. It was a top class match at a high pacea and with long rallies, but it was Esther who won most of the games. Sonja was very satisfied about her play, but not about the score. "It was a very good final" she tells. "I enjoyed my play, have a good feeling about what I did and kept hitting the ball well all through the match. Everyone I would have played against I would have swept from the court.........except Esther. At this moment she is a class on herself, 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 to the Canadian/Japanes couple Yuka Chyoku/Chiyoko Ohmae 6-1, 7-5. It was the kind of match in which nothing worked out for the both of them.
The last tournament of this year is the NEC Wheelchair Tennis Masters that will be held in Amersfoort, The Netherlands from November 12-17. In the doubles Sonja will play together with young and coming Dutch talent Jiske Griffioen. We will keep you posted of actual results through Sonja's website
Flowers from sponsor NRG
We have a world champion amongst us!
Together with the Dutch women's team Sonja has won the Invacare World Team Cup. This world championship for national teams was held the past week in Tremosine in Italy with teams from 31 countries. The Dutch team with coaches Aad Zwaan and Ton Janssen was seeded number one and lived up to the expectations. Consecutively France and Japan were defeated 3-0. In the finals against USA Sonja had an easy win over Karin Korb: 6-2, 6-0. "Before the match I was a bit nervous, but once on court everything ran very smoothly". Esther Vergeer finished the job and also easily passed Sharon Clark: 6-0, 6-3. The doubles was not played anymore, the championship was a fact! On the photograph (from the ITF site) from left to right: Sonja, Sharon Walraven, Aad Zwaan, Esther Vergeer and Maaike Smit (injured). This week we will place better quality pictures on Sonja's site. Unfortunately Sonja could not keep you updated personally due to lack of internet possibilities.
In two weeks time she will be travelling to San Diego to defend her title at the US Open which is held from October 8 till 13.
After a week rest and physiotherapy Sonja did not suffer any more of her shoulder injury and was looking forward to the Swiss Open.
In the singles she had to play Esther Vergeer in the semi finals already. Esther was in super form and Sonja did not stand a chance. "I lost to Esther 6-0, 6-1. There was just nothing I could do, she just was so good. Very frustrating, but there was really nothing I could do about it. I thinkshe played with a magic stick instead of a racket". In the women's doubles Sonja made the finals together with Betty Klave to play Esther Vergeer and Maaike Smit. It was a nice match but they lost 6-4, 7-6 (7-4).
The mixed doubles is a story by itself. Sonja teamed up with american Nick Taylor, a quad in an electric wheelchair. The quads is a seperate category in wheelchair tennis for people with disabilities in both legs and arms. Nick and Sonja performed a unique achievement by reaching the finals notwithstanding this additional handicap. The finals were also a match worthwhile watching. It was played as a pro-set due to rain and they lost 6-8 to (again) Esther Vergeer and up and coming french talent Michael Jeremiasz.
|At the British Open Sonja twice made the finals. A first-class performance in this prestigious Super Series tournament which can be compared to a Grand Slam in able-bodied tennis and therefore brings in quite a number of ranking points as well.
Sonja reached the finals in the singles by fine victories on twice British Open Champion Daniela di Toro of Australia (6-1, 4-6, 6-3) and second seed Maaike Smit (6-2, 7-5). In the finals against Esther Vergeer sensation was in the air. The fact is that it was precisely two years ago that Sonja was the last person that won a match to Esther Vergeer ......indeed at the very same British Open. But world's number one and Olympic champion Esther did not let herself get caught, won 7-5, 6-3 and remains unbeaten.
In the doubles Sonja reached the finals together with Daniela di Toro in which they had to play Esther Vergeer and Maaike Smit. It was fun, but they were not strong enough and lost 3-6, 1-6.
The tournament was visited by Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Gloucester.
Again Sonja reached the finals of a tournament. At the Dutch Open Sonja defeated world's number two Maaike Smit in the semi finals with power tennis: 6-2, 6-4. The tournament was held for the first time at a beautiful location in Rotterdam, only a stone's throw away from the zoo Blijdorp. The giraffes at the other side of the road now and then stretched their necks not to miss anything of the great tennis and occasionally a pair of storks flew over. In the finals Sonja could not quite keep up with the pace of world champion and world's number one Esther Vergeer. By now Esther has not lost a match for about two years!
Sonja did not play doubles to be able to assist at the international Junior Camp that was held simultaneously. Her own tennis carreer got a decisive impulse at the first ever camp. Therefore she enjoyed it very much to help the group of 34 children in the age of about 10 to 18 years to develop themselves further. Several of them wil surely get to the top in the future.
|The Kiwanis Brabants Open is a national tournament that Sonja plays in particular for sociability reasons. But of course she wanted to win just the same. In the singles Sonja already lost in the quarter finals from young and coming talent Jiske Griffioen with 2-6, 4-6. The kind of match in which things don't work out and the opponent is at her best. Too bad, but nothing dramatic. In the doubles she had a lot of fun together with Esther Vergeer and in the finals they quite easily defeated Maaike Smit and Mette van Dongen: 6-0, 4-6 (afternoon nap), 6-1.
Several sponsors and a number of fans were present. A remarkable spectator was grandma Peters, who at an age of 97 years still closely follows Sonja's performances.
Sonja has still two weeks some spare time left but after that she has six consecutive european tournaments in her agenda.
At this moment Sonja is playing the Nasdaq 100 Open Championships in Key Biscayne. The tournament for the best 8 women and 16 men in wheelchair tennis runs parallel to the ATP tournament, what can lead to nice or unexpected get-togethers.
On Tuesday Sonja was giving a clinic for her wheelchair sponsor Invacare."At the lift Martina Navratilova came to us and asked if we were going to play a demo or so. She was very kind and it is so funny if a person like her introduces herself even if everybody knows who she is. Venus Williams just came in when I wanted to get out and she slammed the door right in my face. I can't blame her as she is so tall and we are sitting so low. But she was scared to death and kept saying sorry."
The draw was a continuation of the series in Australia: once more Sonja had a very strong opponent in the first round, the number one seed Maaike Smit.
"We went on court as late as 18.30 hours! That was nice though, because it was done on purpose because there was a pause between the matches of the day and the evening, so it might attract more people. That was indeed the case, we had a pretty large number of spectators and they were very enthousiastic.
The match was super. Very high level and it went along very evenly. Long games and long rallies and in fact all strokes, even my service, went well. Unfortunately that was also the case with Maaike and she won 4-6, 6-3, 6-3. I was completely exhausted after the match, so tired I could not see sharp through my lenses.
After the match we went for dinner and now I manage. But I have to go to bed because tomorrow I have to play a doubles match with Maaike against Djoke (van Marum) and Betty (Klave)."
Sonja at the Williams-Capriatai final match, Key Biscayne.