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If you do want to use an <a> tag, then play around with padding on the anchor tag for that little bit of text that you do have. The padding area is completely clickable, so this can expand the "hotspot" to fill (or nearly fill) the table cell.
Also, try giving the <a> tags a display:block rule. This way you can define a width and height for the anchor tag that fills (or nearly fills) the entire cell