Mercer County Tennis Council

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2009 NJTL of Trenton Gala A Success

June 18, 2009 08:42 PM

At the May 1 annual gala, Building a Future for our Youth, The National Junior Tennis League of Trenton raised over $300,000  to continue its significant work with children in the Trenton area. At the same time, it was able to recognize early pioneers of the program and showcase its youth, many of whose involvement in the program has been a life-altering experience.

Michellle Gbelama, who co-hosted the 17th annual event along with Jaywanza Weekes, is a long-time NJTL participant who was recently chosen as the first recipient of the inaugural Jack Geisel Scholarship Fund. At the gala, she was able to meet the sons of Jack Geisel, one of the evening’s honorees. Ritchie and John, Jr. were on hand on behalf of their late father and were thrilled to meet the Drew University student-athlete.

“Mom and Dad would be absolutely thrilled at Michelle’s selection. Her personal qualities are wonderful and she was so gracious,” said Ritchie Geisel, who traveled from California to be there. “Establishing an endowed scholarship fund seemed like the most appropriate way for us to perpetuate the work that Dad was so passionate about. My parents devoted nearly 40 years of volunteer service to NJTL.”

Some 400 attendees helped honor Geisel, along with Connie Clovis, Jack deGrouchy, Bill Stoner, and the late Jim Clovis. A number of dignitaries were also on hand that included freeholders, a city official, a television personality, and a former professional athlete. In addition, NJTL is proud to have so many loyal supporters and sponsors, some of whom are The Horner Foundation, USTA/NJTL, The Lady Warriors, PNC Wealth Management, Trenton Makes, LLC, Garden Makers, the Family of Jack Geisel, PEAC Health & Fitness, and Prince Sports. Event co-chairs were Cary Dawson, Beth Deitchman, and Claire Shevlin. 

The national NJTL program was established in 1968 by humanitarian and professional tennis player Arthur Ashe, who envisioned the program as a vehicle to create opportunities for urban youth. NJTL of Trenton was established in 1975 and is currently one of 525 chapters throughout the country. NJTLT reached 1,700 kids last year through year-round tennis, after-school programs, and community service programs. Several new and exciting programs are expected to be added this year.

For more information about the NJTLT, please visit