Couple selects Punta Gorda for sport and quality of life
A propitious lunch, a love of sport and an emphasis on improving one’s quality of life.
Jeremy and Michelle Gwaltney’s interest in living a healthier lifestyle led them to Charlotte County. The couple are members of Twin Isles Country Club in Punta Gorda.
However, prior to their current location, the Gwaltneys found themselves traveling the world, moving from destination to destination, participating in different activities.
Jeremy Gwaltney’s first exposure to the sport of tennis was in ninth grade at Norcross High School in Norcross, Ga. Although his school didn’t have a tennis team, most of his friends played tennis and golf, so he naturally gravitated toward the sport. They would play at the Atlanta Athletic Club, and he would play at a park in town with another friend, honing his skill set, demonstrating an early passion for the game by participating in the game until the lights were turned off on the courts.
Michelle, went to a performing arts high school, where she danced. The two met in Memphis, Michelle’s hometown, when Jeremy moved there. When the two married, they moved to Atlanta and both had an interest to become involved with tennis, more as a social outlet.
“We had some friends in groups and networks who were playing as well,” said Jeremy. Tennis is well-embraced by those living in metro Atlanta with a healthy number of people participating in the sport, said Michelle, who dabbled in the sport when she had a corporate job.
But work would take them half way around the globe, where they would have an opportunity to stay active in different countries including Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates. The Gwaltneys and their two sons were able to bowl and play tennis on the compounds, said Jeremy.
“You could play tennis with a lot of Americans,” said Jeremy, who did contract work overseas. “Or you could sacrifice a little and join a golf association. Tennis is not so much on the golf clubs in Saudi Arabia, there more so in the compounds.”
The Gwaltneys joined a golf club during their time living in and out of the area, what Jeremy referred to as social golf, providing them with some unique opportunities. “We were able to attend and be part of the Saudi Arabian Youth Golf Federation,” said Jeremy. “We played some on the compound, and over there, there’s a lot of tennis leagues. One of our HR guys was a tennis player. We joked around, he was a tennis player and I played golf.”
The Gwaltneys moved back from Riyadh, a place they lived in for six years, with the intent of improving their quality of life. Michelle’s mother and Jeremy’s father both passed away, and the couple made the decision they were going to place an emphasis on leading a healthier lifestyle. They returned to Georgia a place that they had spent a great deal of their life. “I loved Atlanta, we lived there for 23 years, for a part of that we were living overseas too,” said Michelle.
“But we decided to slow life down. We had never heard of Punta Gorda. We were looking at Bonita Springs, Marco Island and had a random lunch at Fishermen’s Village.”
A propitious call to Jeremy’s cousin, who’s a director for a company called Property Masters, led the Gwaltneys to the only incorporated municipality in Charlotte County. They had looked at a house in Englewood.
“He said, ‘Stop in Punta Gorda,’” said Jeremy, and that’s when they met him at Fishermen’s Village. “We saw people kayaking and biking, and we were like, wow! We couldn’t stop thinking about it.”
The Gwaltneys called a realtor from the restaurant, met him at the house and rented the place on the spot, said Michelle.
“We were here two weeks later, we weren’t going any further south,” said Michelle. “Twin Isles, Jeremy went and signed up. He came home and said, ‘Honey guess what, we’re members of the club.’”
They chose Twin Isles because it offered both golf and tennis, said Jeremy. They’ve been in Punta Gorda for about two years. Twin Isles Country Club’s tennis professional, Jak Beardsworth, has played a significant role in helping improve their tennis game, understand the mechanics of the sport and providing them with a better comprehension of the discipline.
“Jak’s an excellent tennis player, but I think he was put on this Earth to help the rest of us,” said Michelle. It’s Beardsworth approach to the sport and his understanding of its mechanics that have improved the level of Jeremy’s presence on the court. They’ve also become involved with Kiwanis Kids for Shoes program.
“I never could understand tennis until I took lessons with Jak,” said Jeremy. “He would use more of a mathematical approach, ‘you’re at this degree, click, click.’ and measure those clicks. I related to him well. Michelle is really doing well with him. She’s so involved with it now. She’s the captain of a team.”
Credit: SUN Port Charlotte newspaper July 28, 2019
By BENJAMIN BAUGH, Sports Writer