Always dreamed of stepping onto Centre Court? Put in some practice in your own garden with these luxury properties currently on the market, starting at less than £200,000. Stephanie Bell reports
Tennis season has arrived and as the strawberries and champagne come out at Wimbledon, racquets are being dusted down across the country as more people are inspired to take up the game. But it is not just in their local clubs that tennis enthusiasts are playing, as an increasing number of homes here now boast their own private courts.
Like heated swimming pools, the addition of a tennis court has long been seen as a luxury that only celebrities or the very rich could afford.
But as the current market shows, you don't have to be a millionaire to enjoy a game in your own garden - currently you can buy a luxury apartment with a tennis court for under £200,000.
Building a tennis court can be pricey and, while it might not add much to the value, it will certainly increase the desirability of your home.
Neil Murphy, associate director at Michael Chandler estate agents, has just sold a beautiful home in Downpatrick with a quality floodlit all-weather tennis court which was on the market at £575,000.
He says: "It isn't something that would tend to be on most people's wishlist but certainly if a property does have a tennis court it will make it more appealing.
"It is still very much a luxury item - along with swimming pools, it is something people like to be able to say they have got.
"In the likes of Cultra (one of the province's most expensive residential areas) you will probably find that two houses in every 10 have tennis courts.
"The move now for those who do want them is for multi-purpose use. They will install them as tennis courts but with surfaces that can be used for football and basketball and other sports so that the whole family can enjoy it.
"They aren't cheap to put in and it is debatable about whether they will add to value of the property. I sold two houses last year with tennis courts, but when it comes to valuing a property, it is the whole package that is considered and these houses are usually at the top end of the market."
Simon Brien Residential is known to specialise in high-end homes.
Associate director David Best believes that when people are investing a lot of money in a property it certainly increases the appeal if the house has a tennis court.
"We have sold a number of properties in the high end of the market with tennis courts and have a number for sale at the moment," he says.
"It is certainly something people see a use for and it does add value in terms of how people live their lives. When you are paying a certain price for a home it is a bonus to have these facilities."
David points out that tennis courts remain a luxury not just because of cost, but due to the space you need to install one.
Properties with enough land to accommodate a tennis court will usually be more expensive. That said, they are very sought after.
"There is no doubt about it that it is a luxury, like a home gym or a swimming pool, all of which make a property more desirable and add to the saleability," adds David.
"They seem even more popular with people who have kids.
"We sold one recently with an all-weather Astroturf tennis court that lends itself to a multitude of uses, which makes them even more appealing."
Construction and surfacing specialists John Campbell & Sons Limited of Ballinderry has been building tennis courts for home owners and tennis clubs in Northern Ireland for over 25 years.
Director Stephen Campbell reveals tennis courts are especially popular with families and are in demand today for multi-sports use.
"It is definitely more wealthy people who get tennis courts installed. We could do six this year and one next year, it's not a huge demand but it's steady," he says.
"There seems to be two types of customer - the person who wants it in because it enhances their property and the serious tennis player who will use it throughout the week and have friends over to play.
"Synthetic carpets are probably the best surface and we've had a real move towards making the courts multi-purpose so that hockey, football and basketball can be played as well.
"Parents like the idea of their children having this safe area at home and being able to invite their friends over and they have the reassurance of knowing where their children are. I have one we are doing soon that a father is putting in for his five girls, who all play hockey."
As for price, like most things, quality does count and Stephen says a good tennis court will set you back around £40,000.
If you are upgrading an existing court, the costs will be much less at between £10,000 and £15,000.
Before you begin, you need to ensure you have an area of 500 square metres to create your new court.
Stephen adds: "There are different surfaces but synthetic carpet is the best although people tend to think they are high maintenance when it is actually the opposite.
"All that is needed is for it to be sprayed for moss a couple of times a year."
If you don't fancy all the work of installing your own but plan to move house and it is on your wishlist, there is a large range of properties on the market right now with their own private tennis courts.
We've picked out a selection from around the province which will be a match for any tennis enthusiast.
This sprawling period home located on the outskirts of Portadown offers luxury living inside and its extensive grounds boast a full-sized tennis court. The house has undergone a major refurbishment and is beautifully styled with living rooms on the ground and first floor.
This is a house where outdoor living is as important as indoor. As well as the tennis court, which sits behind the property, there are several patio and decked areas. One decked area between the double garage and the tennis court has a remote controlled awning and electric heaters, creating an all-weather, year round entertainment area.
Nestled in 2.9 acres of spectacular gardens this handsome home built from Scrabo stone comes with a tennis court and a swimming pool. It enjoys a peaceful rural location, just a few minutes from Comber town centre. A fine period property, the interior boasts many beautiful original features such as high ceilings, ornate cornices, corbels, ceiling roses and original fireplace surrounds.
The house is large with four reception rooms and six bedrooms and, while the interior is outstanding, the outside is just as special.
As well as a Tarmac tennis court, there is a former stable block with the potential for four stables, additional outbuildings and a magnificent outdoor heated swimming pool.
An impressive five-bedroom detached property with three reception rooms, this lovely property sits in around two acres of landscaped grounds.
Originally a doctor's home and surgery for the area, the house is full of charm and has a rather special master bedroom which opens onto a balcony with views across open countryside.
The extensive gardens are a delight all year round with their mature planting and the all-weather tennis court is surrounded by hedging.
This magnificent modern barn conversion offers contemporary luxury living in a picturesque rural setting.
The interior is exquisite with four bedrooms and two plus reception rooms and outside again is geared up for a luxurious lifestyle with a range of loose boxes, full-sized tennis court and mature gardens.
This duplex apartment is set in a grand former manor house dating back to 1849 and converted into apartments in 1999. A stunning Tudor Gothic revival building, it retains many of its original features including a grand mahogany staircase and beautiful leaded stained glass windows.
This two-bedroom apartment with two reception rooms and a mezzanine landing study area enjoys spectacular views over the Irish Sea.
The complex is set within approximately 2.9 acres with landscaped communal gardens which feature a barbeque area as well as a tennis court.
This grand period residence, which dates from the 1930s, sits in grounds of around an acre. The property oozes character and has four bedrooms and three reception rooms. Outside is a delight, with a walled patio and vegetable garden, extensive lawns and, of course, an all-weather tennis court.
This superb detached family home sits in a quiet semi-rural location on Church Lane just off the Hillhall Road. It is a quality home inside and out.
There are three reception rooms and five bedrooms all with beautiful contemporary finishes.
The tennis court is finished with artificial grass and enclosed by fencing. This house also boasts extensive beautiful gardens and a paddock.
This superb home offers an extensive 10,000 sq ft of beautiful accommodation and is set in four acres of gardens.
A raised deck offers panoramic views of the countryside towards the Irish Sea and there are multiple patios and decks as well as a full sized tennis court.
A huge six-bedroom house, it offers endless luxuries with a cinema room, bar, gym and games room as well as five reception rooms.
An impressive period home, The Grey House sits on an elevated site on the Craigavad coastline with uninterrupted views across Belfast Lough to the Co Antrim shoreline. Dating back to 1853, it is a striking listed Victorian residence with a wealth of fine accommodation and boasting many original features. Set within 2.2 acres of mature landscaped grounds are plenty of spaces to relax and play with its own all-weather tennis court.
Sitting in generous grounds of over an acre, this individually designed home offers great space for families inside and out.
The gardens are a delighted with secluded sitting areas and a former tennis court which could easily be brought back to life.