PETALING JAYA: Former national No.1 Kenneth Low has decided to end his professional career and switch to coaching instead. His last professional event will be the World Men's Open in Lahore, Pakistan in December.
Kenneth is expected to play at third singles in the team event with Ong Beng Hee and Mohd Azlan Iskandar spearheading the challenge.
His decision to retire comes after a frustrating season in the professional circuit.
I was training hard last year, but I couldn't get past the initial stages in some events which I took part in, he said.
The year started well enough for Kenneth when he reached the finals of the Kuala Lumpur Open in 2002.
However, the player suffered first round losses in the Milo Open in March and Pakistan Squash Open in May 2002. However, he did win the Japan Open in September.
There were some positive feelings after KL Open in February earlier this year, I felt I could still play on, said Kenneth. He lost to Australian Mike Corren in the first round of the KL Open.
Somehow, later on, I felt continuing was too much, said the 27-year-old.
He played in two Australian satellite events after the 2003 KL Open. Kenneth reached the semi-final of the 2003 Magic Sports International and the quarter-finals of the 2003 Be Active Wheatbelt Open in May.
It won't be a complete walk-out from competition after December, I will be taking part in some local events to maintain my fitness, said Kenneth.
Among Kenneth's notable achievements are reaching the quarter-finals of the men's doubles with Michael Soo and the last sixteen of the singles event in the 1998 Commonwealth Games in Kuala Lumpur. Kenneth felt his best professional year was in 1997 when he won three satellite events - Milo Open, Kuala Lumpur Open and Sarawak Open.
For now, though, the retirement can wait. Kenneth is busy preparing for World Men's Open. I will be playing in two satellite events to sharpen my skills, said Kenneth, who is currently attached to the National Sports Council as a part-time coach.
He is assisting national coach Azan Yaacob to train the national U-17 boys and girls team at the Bukit Jalil squash academy.
After the World Open in December, the coaching career will take precedence. I have passed a Level 1 coaching course and am now awaiting the results of the Level 2 exams, he said.
Kenneth is adapting to the changes.
It's a new thing for me. As a player, you learn from coaches. Now, I am the person who is helping players improve, added Kenneth.
Despite his decision, sponsors Dunlop have decided to maintain their ties with Kenneth. They re-signed the player as their squash ambassador yesterday at the Dunlop office in Subang Jaya.
The two-year deal will see Kenneth featured in clinics, demo days and exhibition matches and other publicity events organised by Dunlop.
Besides Kenneth, Dunlop has also rewarded four players with two-year equipment deals senior player Marcus Yeap, and juniors Jerry Foo, Delia Arnold and Siti Munirah Jusoh.