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10:44:42 Jan 3, 2012  
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From Wimbledon to Albert Square

By Larry Jaffee

Britain’s recent Wimbledon tournament – congratulations to new champs Novak Djokovic and Petra Kvitova – prompted me to think about which EastEnders characters through the years could have been excellent tennis players. Let’s face it, sport doesn’t figure too often in the show, and no offence, they don’t seem to be all that athletic.

On the women’s side, I’ve come up with Melanie and Kelly. The men are bit more difficult. I could picture Steve Owen showing up at a country club in his tennis whites. Clyde Tavernier’s physique reminds me of Gaël Monfils, the lanky Frenchman.

Who do you think could know his or her way around a racquet? Send in your suggestions. In the meanwhile, I canvassed the peanut gallery, and they had some imaginative match pairings. Paul Gansky: I can just see Phil and Grant playing at Wimbledon! After three hours it’s still a tie and the net is in tatters! (The only scoring was on double-faults!)

I agree that Melanie would look great on the courts!

Can’t recall her name, Joe’s Mom from Scotland (ed.: Lorraine), too! Wellard to fetch balls. Mixed doubles: Alfie and Kat. Nick might be intimidating to the refs! Stacey would shag them! Shonni Dixon: Mandy and Aidan would have made a great pair – both young and agile. Also in his day, Dan Sullivan might have swung a mean racquet! I can also see Kathy Beale Mitchell playing in her earlier years – and she would turn a few heads! And Frankie could have given a few a run for their money. Simon (Wicksy) and his brother David Wicks would make quite a great doubles team! Irene Feldman: Most definitely Jack Branning! Actor Scott Maslen is said to have earned a comfortable living as an international model before turning to acting. Although this was 20 years ago, he's still got the fit physique – as well as the right footwork, as evidenced by his high scores on Dancing With the Stars in 2010.

Cary Granite: I dreamed about Pat on the court, racquet in hand. Now that Pam is “hanging up her earrings,” will she take up tennis? Claire Meyerhoff: I’d like to see a match between Peggy and Grant Mitchell. Janet Rogers: I could see Dorothy with a racquet.... chasing Jim all over the square and through the pub with it..... I can definitely see Lucy lopping off Phil's head with one, and serving it on the cat gut.... and I can see Pat whacking Janine over the head with a racquet – earrings just a flashin’.... Oh, you mean an actual tennis match...well, Tom was athletic... he could have played.

Editor’s note: I’m always searching for hints as to why I became an Anglophile, and now realise that tennis might have played a role. As a teenager in the 1970s, I played with a wooden Slazenger racquet, the same brand that my father used, and I just learned that it was “MADE IN ENGLAND.” Slazenger ceased manufacturing wood racquets in the 1980s, but still supplies official tennis balls to Wimbledon.

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