The phrase “going the extra mile” describes both literally and figuratively the commitment of 10-year-old JTCC player Jameelah Diallo who began taking Orange Ball I classes in November.
In a literal sense, Jameelah and her mother Hadja “go the extra mile” making the weekly Saturday morning commute from their home in York, PA to JTCC which takes three hours round trip and is 86 miles each way. This might seem daunting to many, but not for Jameelah.
“It’s definitely long, but it’s worth it as I’m doing something I love, and my mom commits to it every time, so I really thank her for her efforts,” she explained. “I love that there’s so much to do. You have games, warmup, practice, and there’s always something to look forward to!”
After her second class, Jameelah received the surprise of a lifetime when she met her idol, seven-time singles Grand Slam Champion Venus Williams, who was training at JTCC that day.
“A person in my class said ‘that’s Venus Williams’ and was saying it so casually I was thinking ‘no way, that’s not Venus’. I looked more closely and shouted ‘that’s Venus Williams’ and eventually got a picture with her,” an exuberant Jameelah exclaimed.
Enrolled in the Gifted and Talented Program at her school, Jameelah scored a 139 on her IQ test as a second grader and is already coding Python, a complex programming language designed to build websites and software.
Jameelah’s mother Hadja Diallo, grew up in Guinea, West Africa, just hours away from Sierra Leone, the homeland of JTCC alumnus Frances Tiafoe’s parents. After hearing his incredible story on CBS News during his US Open semifinal run in 2022, Hadja jumped at the chance of having her daughter train at JTCC.
“I thought it would be a great opportunity for Jameelah to participate at the academy, and I wanted her to have the exposure of being around greatness, fantastic coaches, and a place that has a history of producing professional athletes,” explained her mother.
Excited that tennis is a lifelong skill for her daughter, Hadja has no regrets about making the long commute every Saturday morning.
“The drive is long, but I’m willing to do it. An hour and a half drive is nothing compared to Jameelah’s experience and what she’s learned at JTCC,” she concluded.