The National Junior Tennis & Learning of Trenton is a non-profit organization that provides tennis, education and life skills to youth.
“It’s a really nice program. I like it. People take care of me here. I never imagined anything like this when I came to Trenton,” said Alfred Kandakai Jr.
Kandakai, a 15-year-old sophomore at Trenton High, another jewel in the success-crusted NJTL crown, recalled an interesting past.
In 2013, Alfred Sr. eventually forwarded his son to Trenton to live with his mother, Yeato, and three younger sisters, Joydely, Sajely, and Faith. And the rest, as frequently said, is history.
Kandakai, whose father taught tennis in Liberia, arrived in the U.S. with superior tennis skills, talents that earned him a three-week stay at Sanchez-Casal Academy in Naples, Florida, before he arrived in New Jersey’s state capital.
Kandakai discovered the NJTLT when his stepfather ushered him there to connect with an organization that breeds success.
“Playing tennis was a struggle in Liberia. So, for me to come here, play tennis and go to school, get good education and play against good players is really beneficial for me,” Kandakai explained.
His arrival to Trenton ranks as incredibly special but his story with the NJTL resembles that of many players who found this cradle of love.
For instance, Michelle Gbelama, the NJTLT program director, did not start playing tennis until her high school junior season. The NJTLT helped her find the passion for working and winning as her determination backed by love and support, vaulted her to Drew University stardom.
Gbelama became the first female from Drew to win the NJAIAW as she claimed two MVP awards for the Rangers. Gbelama excelled in the classroom and on the courts as Drew’s No. 1 singles player also starred on the Rangers’ No. 1 doubles team.
The records extend into many categories but just the fact that she returned home to help others signifies that NJTLT made an indelible mark. (Source: Trentonian newspaper).