Here’s the Story Behind the Random Tennis Court in Someone’s Backyard in Ashton Heights

ashton heights tennis court

The Ashton Heights neighborhood of Arlington is known for many things. Quaint streets, mature trees, and smaller, renovated bungalows come to mind.

Lot sizes are usually limited so you will mostly find smaller to moderately-sized homes on smaller to moderately-sized lots.

So then why the heck is there a random tennis court in someone’s backyard in the neighborhood? The answer, as it turns out, is quite fascinating.

tennis court ashton heights

The tennis court in question is sandwiched between Pershing Drive, Nelson Street, and the Columbia Gardens Cemetery. Even though it’s just behind a row of homes, if you were driving by on Pershing or even Nelson Street, you would be hard-pressed to find it.

According to a source, the tennis court is officially owned by the homeowners of 228 N Nelson Street.

But that doesn’t really answer why there is a tennis court there in the first place. So let’s take this a step further.

ashton heights tennis court arlington va

Screenshot via gis.arlingtonva.us

According to Arlington County land records, the tennis court sits on four lots behind the homes that line Pershing Drive and Nelson Street. There are no others structures on those four lots.

But there could have been at one point. A pipestem home could have been possible at some time. There is a driveway with access and there is plenty of land available. So we ask again, why has there been no home built on one or all four of the lots?

driveway entrance nelson st

It turns out that the reason no homes are built on those lots are because the fire department would need access to the front of the home(s) and there is currently no street or road that provides access. There is a driveway at 224 N Nelson Street, but in addition to being a private residence, the turn radius entering the driveway would not allow for a larger vehicle like a fire engine to enter.

So with that being said, you’re left with about half an acre of flat, usable land. With limited options on development, why not turn it into a tennis court? Sources say that neighboring homes share the private court and it is popular in the summer among the young kids in the neighborhood that live right by the court.

Finally, the last bit of the puzzle is that 224 N Nelson Street is for sale. That home actually sits on 1.5 lots. The home is being sold as-is and should be a tear-down. I’m always fascinated by those who want to ‘save history’ and ‘protect older homes’. Step inside 224 Nelson and marvel at the nicotine stains on the wall, or revel in the many cracks in the plaster that show clear signs of damages in the foundation.

Some homes should be saved. Others should have been bulldozed years ago.

Whatever the case may be, someone is going to be living in a new home, walking distance to Metro, with a quasi-private tennis court in their own backyard very shortly. Oh, and they’re also going to have really quiet neighbors.