What a Racket!


A name useful to a crossword setter, as an N_D_L alternative entry to
‘nodal’, though only in some newspapers. The Guardian: tick; The Times:

But why? Times cryptic crossword policy dictates all entries must be dead
(except for the Queen, for some reason).

An aside: recently I was dismayed to find, half-way through penning a Times
jumbo, that my entry ‘Gore Vidal’ is very much alive and kicking. Dammit.
Two hours it took to rub him out.

So, we camped out for show court tickets during Wimbledon this year, and
were rewarded with Court 1. Nadal. The match proved a relatively
straightforward straight sets victory, but perhaps it had been worth being
there for some wag’s shriek ‘Go Nads!’

I have generally refrained from tennis references, perhaps due to once being
requested to withdraw a puzzle on the grounds that I’d defined a number of
famous tennis stars as ‘racketeers’, and that might prove libellous.  I can
neither imagine Martina Navratilova, for example, ever A/ doing The Guardian
crossword, nor B/ being upset by it.

Some years ago, a friend called to say they’d heard there was a competition
running on Radio Five, to write an apposite anagram for a tennis player. The
best anagram would win two tickets to the Men’s singles Final. Right up my

Monica Seles, the grunter, comes out as ‘camel noises’. I considered this
pretty good, but the letters are helpful. So I decided instead to submit an
anagram of which I’d been proud, an anagram without an ‘E’ and with two
‘V’s’ – ‘Variant rival to a man’. The chaps at Radio 5 read it out, and
seemed to like it, but considered it might upset the sturdy Martina.

I had been destined not to win. The victorious entry? A rather apposite
‘camel noises’.

Best wishes,

John (Paul)


5 responses to “What a Racket!

  1. Tennis was much simpler when Pete Sampras (“Repeat spasm”) was at the top of his game. His rival, Andre Agassi, was less substantial (“air and gases.”) Roger Federer’s a worthy successor, although sometimes one needs a second opinion. (“Ergo, referred.”) Now, with Novak Djokovic, it’s a bit trickier. “Jock: Vodka, Vino?” perhaps. But thinking of tennis brings an (almost) legitimate clue to mind: “Centre Court belongs to us? (3)”

  2. A tennis-star anagram clue used by Pasquale I think, before the person in question won Wimbledon. “He smashes aces in vain, vigorously – not half” (5,10)

  3. Going back a few years we have
    -Biennial elk jig
    – Weird vagina, I
    Finally, in view of Wimbledon fortnight’s tendency to produce rain, the easy but apt
    – Prefer dry

  4. Hi John. There’s a variation on the cryptic theme at a contest website I like – http://www.Anagramania.com. This post reminded me of one of their recent (and easier) clues: ‘Hit by the player’s racket during a powerful serve, a slain bee fell to the ground at the court’s end’ (2 words). The answer is not a player’s name though.

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