News about Sonja
News 2002

December 30th 2003
The experience that Sonja has gained from her sport is a very useful tool for management trainings and alike. Setting targets, perseverance, performing top achievements, coping with changes and with disappointments, all these form very useful elements for this.
Sonja has assisted already several times in such trainings and recently was asked as a speaker for a congress on December 3, with about 150 participants.
The congress was organized by Foodservice Network The Netherlands, a network platform for leading companies in the area of food and drinks outside home. Think of hotels, restaurants, catering, recreational market, and not in the least producers and distributors of food, drinks and alike.
The theme of the day was "Convenience, when the easy way matters". Sonja's contribution was to make a link between her experiences in top sports and how convenience can contribute to reaching success.

Sonja with cheque At the end of her presentation Sinterklaas (the Dutch traditional version of Santa Claus, celebrated at December 5) came on the stage and handed a cheque of Euro 4455 to a completely flabbergasted Sonja on behalf of all members of Foodservice Network and the participants of the congress!!!! Sonja was speechles for a few moments, something that does not happen very often! She found it fun to give a contribution and afterwards good a number of positive reactions and had quite a few interesting talks.
The photograph of the happily smiling Sonja with cheque (showing the logo's of the companies) tells it all. This contribution will certainly help her in making the right preparations for the Paralympics in Athens in order to achieve optimal performances.

October 10th 2003
Sonja has reached the doubles finals of the US Open Super Series tournament together with Daniela di Toro. It was a tight match against first seeds Esther Vergeer and Maaike Smit, who in the end secured the victory: 5-7, 3-6.
In the singles Sonja defeated amongst others Japanese Chiyoko Ohmae 6-2, 6-4, but in the semi-finals was no match to doublespartner Daniela: 2-6, 2-6. Als last tournament of the year the NEC Wheelchair Tennis Masters are planned (October 27 – Novemer 2). Sonja had to cancel the Doubles Masters because of the last examen she has to pass in the week of October 20. In between and during the tournaments Sonja has studied hard to prepare herself.
October 6th 2003
Sonja has reached both finals of the World Challenge in Birminghamam, Alabama, USA. In the singles of the CS1 tournament Sonja defeated Maaike Smit in the semi-finals: 6-1, 7-6(3). That was an important match, because the result decided whether Sonja would further secure her second spot on the world ranking list, or would lose it to Maaike again.
In the finals against Esther Vergeer Sonja took the first set and had a 4-2 lead in the second. But Esther came from behind and won 6-4. Also the third set went to Esther: 6-2. “We both played a very high level throughout the match” Sonja tells. “The difference between the two of us is only marginal”.
In the doubles Sonja also reached the finals together with Daniela di Toro. They lost to Esther Vergeer and Maaike Smit in a close match: 6-3, 4-6, 5-7. Due to darkness the match was played with light and both Sonja and Daniela had difficulties with that.
October 1st 2003
Sonja has reached the semifinals of the PTR/ROHO Championships in Hilton Head twice. Hilton Head is a resort at the coast of South Carolina, which is located north of Florida. In the singles Sonja lost in the semi-finals to Daniela di Toro after a titanic struggle that lasted over three hours. Sonja lost the first set 3-6. "At 1-1 in the second set it started to rain and we had to go inside. At 4-1 in my advantage Danni made a toilet break and at 6-4 once again. Quite irritating to have your rhytm interrupted all the time. Both of us played very well, we scored more points than that we made errors, which is usually the other way round. I had a few chances in the third set for 5-5, but unfortunately it turned out 4-6. The doubles directly afterwards together with Sharon Clark were OK. In the quarter finals we defeated Kaitlyn Verfuerth en Tiffany Geller 6-2, 6-4. This was directly followed by the semi-finals which started at 18.15 hours. I must say that I was pretty tired! We lost 3-6, 5-7 to Hope Lewellen and Danni and I was almost glad that it did not turn into a third set. Seven hours tennis on one day is just enough."
September 8th 2003
Sonja has won the doubles title at the Citta di Livorno in Italy. Together with Esther Vergeer she defeated compatriots Sharon Walraven and Jiske Griffioen 6-2, 7-5. In the singles Sonja also reached the finals to face Esther Vergeer. In a high level match Sonja enforced a tiebreak in the first set, but unfortunately Esther had the better in the end. Sonja lost the second set 3-6. Nevertheless with this result Sonja further consolidates her second spot on the world ranking list.
August 26th 2003
Sonja has finished third at the Dutch National Wheelchair Tennis Championships. In the semi-finals she had to play Esther Vergeer. It took Sonja until the second set before she really got going, but that was too late and she lost 2-6, 6-7(8). Unfortunately she could not cash in on three set points. “When playing Esther you have to take risks and play all or nothing. This time it was nothing” Sonja analyzed.. She broke a string, something that hardly occurs to her, as witness that she was hitting the balls real hard. The battle for the third place was against Jiske Griffioen. Sonja enjoyed that match also, with hard hitting powertennis from both sides, but this time Sonja was the best and won 7-5, 5-7, 6-4.
August 7th 2003
By reaching the singles finals of the Austrian Open last week, Sonja has moved up to the second spot of the ITF world ranking list, her best ranking ever. Needles to say that Sonja is as pleased as punch, the reward for hard work and excellent performances.

The results certainly are impressive. This year Sonja has won the Cajun Classic (USA), Slovakia Open, Czech Open and French Open and was runner-up at the British Open and Austrian Open. In the doubles she was victorious at the Classic 8's (Melbourne), Sydney Open, Australian Open, French Open and British Open while she reached the finals another four times.
The excellent results over the past period earned Sonja so many ranking points that her qualification for the Paralympics in Athens in 2003 is virtually certain for the singles. Participation in the doubles also is a realistic option in view of her third spot on the world ranking list.
August 5th 2003
Once more Sonja has performed well by reaching both finals of the Austrian Open CS1 tournament. In the singles semi-finals she defeated world’s number 5 Sharon Walraven in a tough match: 6-4, 4-6, 6-4. Curiously enough they had not played each other for three years and Sonja was glad and relieved with this win. In the finals she played Daniela di Toro who had eliminated Maaike Smit in the semi-finals. Unfortunately Sonja lost this match in three sets: 5-7, 6-3, 1-6. Sonja reports: “It was a good match, but in the third set I was completely exhausted. I could hardly lift my arm and just didn’t have the energy to give that little bit extra. Nevertheless I am very satisfied. In the last months I have gone far in all the tournaments that I played and now I am really looking forward to getting some rest.” In the doubles quarter finals compatriots Maaike Smit and Betty Klave had the better over Sonja and Sharon Clark: 6-4, 0-6, 4-6
July 20th 2003
Award ceremony doubles British open 2003 Nearly a tradition, Sonja has perrformed very well at the British Open. This Super Series tournament suits her fine and she reached the finals twice.
In the singles semi-finals she had another win on Maaike Smit with a quite convincing score: 3-6, 6-1, 6-1. "In the first set I played a little tense. After that I just did not look where the ball was going, but merely played by feeling and that just worked out perfectly". In the finals she lost to Esther Vergeer in a match that was nice to watch for the public and which Sonja rated herself as "not bad, but also not very good." After the match she had a treatment by the physio for an oppressed nerve in her back that was particularly a nuisance playing services and backhands. It made her fit enough for the doubles final that she won together with Daniela di Toro in an extremely tight match from Esther Vergeer and Maaike Smit: 7-6(7), 3-6, 7-6(7).
Coming Tuesday Sonja will depart to the Austrian Open, after which she can take it a little easier for a short while.

July 20th 2003
The Belgian Open was a hot affair for Sonja with temperatures over 30 °C. In the singles she quite easily reached the semi finals in which she played Esther Vergeer. But Esther played so extremely well that Sonja just did not stand a chance: 1-6, 2-6. In the doubles Sonja teamed up with Daniela di Toro and in the finals once again played Esther together with Maaike Smit. It was a very good, very tense and very tiring match which unfortunately they lost 7-5, 5-7, 3-6.
July 14th 2003
After her win at the French Open Sonja had a decline at the Dutch Open. She was defeated in her very first singles match by Djoke van Marum 2-6, 4-6 and followed the "example" of French Open finalist Maaike Smit who also lost in the first round. But it gave Sonja some time to help a hand at the Junior Camp that run simultaneously.

In the doubles things went better. Together with Jiske Griffioen she reached the semi-finals in which they played a nice match with attractive tennis but lost to the later tournament winners Esther Vergeer and Maaike Smit: 1-6, 4-6.

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. Nelly Cooman, former Olympic medalist Athletics, symbolically donated two sports wheelchairs and 10 tennis rackets to Sonja as player ambassador after which Sonja played an exhibition match. Later this year Sonja will go to South Africa to support ITF coach John Noakes.
July 7th 2003
With a terrific win Sonja has captured the title at the French Open in Paris. In the singles finals of the CS1 tournament she swept compatriot and world's number two Maaike Smit from the court with near perfect powertennis: 6-1, 6-0. "Really everything worked out fantastic" tells a delighted Sonja. "My service was great, my forehand, backhand, everything was a succes. Maaike tried to upset me by playing dropshots, but even those were no problem and turned into a winner." In the doubles Sonja paired up with Maaike and in the finals they defeated the Dutch/Japanese combination Sharon Walraven/Mie Yaosa 7-6, 6-3. A great success for Sonja who has already won her fourth singles title this year.
June 16th 2003
Together with the Dutch women's team Sonja has won the Invacare World Team Cup without even dropping a set. This world championship wheelchair tennis for national teams was held in Sopot, Poland. The Dutch team existed of Esther Vergeer, Maaike Smit, Sonja and coach Piet Hermans. In the finals against the United States Maaike Smit defeated Karin Korb 7-5, 6-2 and Esther Vergeer secured the title by beating Sharon Clark 6-3, 6-0, so Sonja did not have to get into action for the doubles. Earlier matches against Sweden, Poland and Great Britain were also won convincingly. This 16th Women's title underlines the dominance of the Netherlands in Invacare World Team Cup Women's competition. Awardceremony World team Cup 2003

June 10th 2003
In the run-up to the World Team Cup Sonja has participated last week in the Polish Open in Plock. In the singles she lost in the semi finals to Maaike Smit: 1-6, 3-6. "I did not play very well" Sonja reported. "Things just did not work out, and Maaike on the contrary played very well". In the doubles Sonja played for this occasion with American Kaitlyn Verfuerth. Sonja knows her from last year when she assisted at the Junior Camp. They beat a Russion couple with the genuine sounding names of Ludmilla Bubnova en Natalia Bakhmatova 6-1, 6-3. In the semi finals stood no chance against Esther Vergeer and Maaike Smit: 1-6, 1-6.

This week the Invacare World Team Cup, the world championship for national teams is held in Sopot, Poland. Main sponsor Invacare is also the supplier of Sonja's excellent wheelchairs.

The Dutch team, consisting of Esther Vergeer, Maaike Smit and Sonja will try to live up to the role of favorite. That was no problem in the first round meeting Sweden. In the singles Sonja beat Anna Alenas very convincingly 6-0, 6-0 and also Esther Vergeer did exactly the same to Catharina Johansson. Next they will face guest country Poland.
May 19th 2003
In the Czech Republic Sonja scored a hattrick by winning three consecutive tournaments! In the singles semi finals she defeated Betty Klave (NED) 7-6, 6-1 and in the finals she beat Britta Siegers (GER) with a convincing 6-3, 6-1 score. In the doubles Sonja had teamed up for this occasion with compatriot Monique de Beer. They reached the finals, but at a score of 6-3, 6-7 the match was interrupted due to darkness. The third set was played (too?) early on Sunday morning, which they lost to second seeds Betty Klave/Britta Siegers: 2-6.
May 11th 2003
Awardceremony Slovakia Open 2003 Sonja has won the finals of the Slovakia Open in Bratislava through a walkover. Her opponent, British Janet McMorran withdrew before the match. Earlier Sonja quite easily won the previous rounds, in the semifinals she defeated British Kay Forshaw 6-3, 6-1. In the doubles Sonja also reached the finals together with Mette van Dongen. It was an all-Dutch final that was won by the couple of Betty Klave/Monique de Beer: 6-4, 6-2. After the Cajun Classic, Sonja has now scored a second consecutive win, which forms a good basis for the qualification for the Paralympics in Athens in 2004.
Coming week Sonja will play the Czech Open, the third tournament that was supplemented to her schedule.

April 29th 2003
Sonja has scored her first tournament win of this year. In the finals of the Cajun Classic in Baton Rouge in de American state of Louisiana she defeated American Sharon Clark convincingly: 6-0, 6-0. Sonja was very pleased with this result. "Everything just went perfect. I have consistently played very offensive because Sharon is fast and I could return virtually every ball at the first bounce. Really everything worked out well and I did not miss a ball. In total I have only made two unforced errors." In the doubles Sonja paired up with American Dana Meyer but lost in the semifinals in three sets to the couple of Julia Dorsett/Kaitlyn Verfuerth.

Due to incomplete information it only recently appeared that the qualification period for the Paralympics in Athens in 2004 runs from April 12, 2003 till April 12, 2004. Reason for Sonja to plan some additional tournaments, including the Cajun Classic. But a consequence was that Tuesday last week she returned from San Francisco to Amsterdam after an awesome but tiring holiday trip to a number of National Parks in the west of the USA, but had to get on the plane to Baton Rouge the next day again. That gives an extra lustre to this fine win that counts for the qualification for the Paralympics.
April 6th 2003
Sonja has reached the semifinals of the Florida Open by consecutively defeating Chiyoko Ohmae (6-2, 6-1) en Yuka Chokyu (6-1, 6-4). That looks like easy wins, but both players are never underestimated by Sonja, they can be quite tough. In the semifinals Sonja played Maaike Smit. Both players were not very satisfied about their play, however Maaike made the least mistakes: 2-6, 4-6.
In the doubles Sonja and American partner Sharon Clark already lost in the first round to the Swiss pairing of Sandra Kalt and Karin Suter-Erath 5-7, 6-4, 6-1.

On Monday Sonja will fly to San Francisco to meet her parents for a 14-day tour with a camper to such places as Yosemite en Sequoia National Park, Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon, Zion, Las Vegas en Death Valley. After that she will fly back to Amsterdam, to take off to Baton Rouge (USA) the next day for the Cajun Classic.
March 31st 2003
Sonja has reached the finals of the doubles together with american partner Sharon Clark through a relatively easy 6-2, 6-3 win over Sharon Walraven and Karin Korb. On beforehand Sonja believed that the match would be close, but it turned out easier than expected. In the finals Esther Vergeer and Maaike Smit lived up to the role of favorites, but Sonja and Sharon certainly were not just put aside: 3-6, 3-6.
Coming week Sonja wil play the Florida Open in Boca Raton.
March 28th 2003
Sonja had an early loss in the singles at the Nasdaq 100 in Key Biscayne. This tournament for the best eight women and sixteen men of the world is held simultaneously with the ATP Masters tournament.

In her first match Sonja very unluckily drew number one seed and world champion Esther Vergeer. "It was a nice match with long rallies to our standards. The score also went quite evenly, but at the end of the second match I started to play somewhat too flat which caused me to make too much mistakes, 4-6, 3-6, too bad.

The weather is perfect, high in the twenties and not really humid. Tomorrow a shower is expected, so probably after that it will be even better. I have seen a number of matches of the ATP tournament, including Moya-Ginepri. Two tiebreaks and a third set. Nice atmosphere in the stadium. Tomorrow Sharon Clark and me will play doubles against Sharon Walraven and Karin Korb, we could have had a better and a worse draw, it can be quite close."

February 10th 2003
Dear fans,

For the third week in a row Sonja has captured the doubles title. At the Australian Open Wheelchair Tennis Championships in Melbourneshe defeated together with Esther Vergeer the Australian-Dutch couple of Daniela di Toro and Maaike Smit again.

“In the first set we were 1-4 down in no time” Sonja tells. “But then we really got going and succeeded to make up and enforce a tiebreak which we won 7-5. In the second set we were down 1-3 and again we fought back and had a tiebreaker. We all played very well which resulted in a good and tense match. We needed five matchpoints before we could finish it up. But Maaike and Danni did not even have a setpoint. It gives a good feeling to win this way and specially so at this Super Series tournament.

In the singles Sonja was less succesful. She lost to Daniela di Toro already in the quarter finals 6-7, 2-6. “The first set went very evenly. I even had a setpoint at 5-4, hit a beautiful backhand but that went just out. In the second set I was quicly 0-5 down, could come back to 2-5 but it was too late and I lost 2-6. Nevertheless I played well and that gives a good feeling.”

February 3d 2003
Dear fans,

In the finals of the Sydney International Open women's doubles Sonja had an easy win, together with Esther Vergeer, over Maaike Smit and Daniela di Toro: 6-2, 6-2.
"The match was swell" Sonja told. "We both hadn't played the rest of the week because we were thrown out in the first round of the singles and during the warm-up we didn't hit a ball right, so we took a long look at each other. But during the match all went perfect and everything worked out the way we meant to. We never had such an easy win over Maaike and Danni before.
The temperature now is a nice 27 °C, a little bit sultry. The other days we have been to places like Darling Harbour, Opera House and I have bought myself a nice pair of jeans. Because we don't have to play on Sunday, Esther and I have booked a bus trip to the Blue Mountains. Unfortunately we could not take a four wheel drive, because they can't take wheel chairs.
On Monday I will fly from Sydney to Tasmania to give a clinic for the ITF and then straight on to Melbourne for the Australian Open."

January 28th 2003
While the south of the Netherlands was being covered by a beautiful blanket of snow, Sonja called from a steaming hot Sydney. Unfortunately she lost already in the singles quarter finals 3-6, 0-6 to Karin Suter-Erath from Switzerland, number 13 on the world ranking list.

The weather conditions were really bizar, Sonja told. "It is unbelievably hot, with temperatures of 45 degrees C in the shade. During the breaks we cool with ice and are sprayed with water. One player had to be given oxygen and several matches were cancelled.

During my match a very strong wind was blowing. Karin used that very cleverly by playing deep, high bouncing balls when she had wind in the back and playing dropshots when she had wind in front. I could hardly do anything with these balls and lost."

World Champion Esther Vergeer lost in a similar way 1-6, 4-6 to Daniela di Toro, after having not dropped a match for over more than two years.
January 28th 2003
Dear fans,

The tennis season has already started for Sonja. This week she played the Wheelchair Tennis Classic 8's in Melbourne, an invitation tournament for the world's best eight women and men which is held concurrently with the Australian Grand Slam tournament.

In the singles Sonja had a tough draw. Already in the first round she had to play the world no. 2 Maaike Smit and lost 5-7, 6-7 (9-11). "The match was much too precarious, causing me to miss control at the important points", Sonja writes. "Too bad, because I could have done better and it had been nice to play more matches to get a rhytm. I have had a few setpoints in the second set and in fact won it, but the linesman decided otherwise. Too bad, you never know how it would have ended then."

In the doubles Sonja and team mate Esther Vergeer reached the finals against the strong couple of Maaike Smit and Daniela di Toro. "It was so incredibly hot that it was decided to play inside. Temperatures were measured of up to 48 degrees in the shade. However in the course of the afternoon it cooled down to 32 degrees within 3 minutes. I think this can only happen in Melbourne! Because the temperature was below 40 degrees, the heat rule no longer applied, so we had to go outside to play. Ten minutes before the announcement I had been outside and nearly burst due to the heat. But it really had cooled down that fast and it was even nice to play outside! De double went quite well. Esther had a real off-day, I did not know that she could even play bad, but notwithstanding that we were relaxed and won quite a number of points. We lost the first set 7-5, but after that Esther started to play more solid. I played quite good all match, as did Danni, while Maaike was the weak point at their side. We quite easily won the second set 6-2. In the doubles the third set is not played, but a super tiebreak that ends at 10 and which we won 10-8. It was nice to beat Maaike and Danni here, just like we did last year. It gives a good feeling." Sonja and Esther Vergeer at the classic 8's

The prize ceremony was fun. First a normal ceremony, but after that we went to Garden Square where the big screen is and there we were photographed with big, 3 liter Heineken bottles. A change to the usual champagne. Esther completely sprayed me with beer. I guess it was my own fault because I opened my mouth like inviting her to do so. A miracle that I did not vomit, so terribly dirty! I am afraid that Heineken will not like this, but I prefer Coca Cola by far! I was totally sticky because of all the beer and thought I smelled like a skunk, so I first went for a shower and then for a meal."

Meanwhile Sonja has arrived in Sydney for the Sydney International Open. We will keep you posted.