When Lyn Rales built her home in Bethesda, she knew exactly
what she wanted to do with the basement. Her two teenage children both
loved and were good at tennis. “My kids were always hitting balls against
the wall of our previous home’s basement, and it was loud upstairs,” says
Rales. “I wanted to do this for them, but with some sound
Jim Gibson of Gibson Builders constructed a basement that would
have ten-foot ceilings through most of the spaces, such as the exercise
room, storage area, and playroom. But in one area, he excavated deeper to
provide 14-foot ceilings—a good height for a modest sport court. “It was
important for the ceiling to be high enough for them to practice their
serve,” says Gibson, “even if it wasn’t going to be a regulation-size
Gibson installed a rubberized DecoTurf surface like the one at
the US Open, which is easy on the joints and gives the ball a nice bounce.
A large laminated window between the court and the family room lets adults
socialize or watch TV while still seeing the kids practice. That view also
came in handy when the teenagers used the court for parties.
A mural incorporates the children’s tennis bags and some of
their favorite players. Guests can spot Stefan Edberg, Thomas Muster,
Steffi Graf, and Anna Kournikova in the stands, plus the kids’ grandfather
as the referee.
Net result: excellent. Both Rales kids played college
This article appears in the August 2012 issue of The Washingtonian.