ANTHONY RICKETTS RETIRES FROM WORLD TOUR

In a professional playing career spanning over ten years, the 28 year-old former World No.3 from Sydney, was an Australian Institute of Sport Scholarship holder since 1995, he won Silver Medals at consecutive Commonwealth Games, helped Australia to win the Men's World Team Championships and extended his PSA World Tour haul to nine titles, from seventeen final appearances, including the prestigious Tournament of Champions, Super Series Finals and British Open.

Renowned for his aggressive and uncompromising style of play, Ricketts enjoyed an impressive run of form at the beginning of the year which saw him win the Virginia Pro Championships as well as being runner-up at the Windy City Open in Chicago and Tournament of Champions in New York. However, the two-time Australian Open Champion has spent most of 2007 recovering from his fifth operation to his right knee, and following an extensive rehabilitation programme, he has eventually conceded the symptoms experienced over recent years have worsened to the point were he can no longer continue to compete professionally.

"I have had a wonderful time playing on the World Tour since competing in the 1996 World Junior Championships in Cairo and my announcement comes with great disappointment and immense sadness,” said the 28 year-old. “I certainly felt I had many good years ahead of me and was confident I would be able to continue to challenge for the sport’s major titles. The medical teams who have supported me at the Australian Institute of Sport have helped me enormously throughout my career with my knee injury, but at this point, after so much damage to the joint, they could not get me back on court and recommended retirement. The continued pain in my knee meant there was no other decision to be made, professional squash was no longer an option.”

"I am very proud of the standards I’ve set myself throughout my career and I have been very fortunate to have received invaluable help and support from so many people, all of whom have given so much of themselves to help me achieve my goals as a professional squash player. I will obviously thank everybody privately and individually, but it is impossible not to acknowledge the people who have helped me achieve what I have,” explained the former World No.3.

“Geoff Roberts in Sydney has been my mentor from the start and will continue to be so, whatever path I decide to take. I have been privileged to receive the support of Squash Australia and the Australian Institute of Sport who have given me the opportunity to work with the very best coaches, including Geoff Hunt, Rodney Martin and more recently Byron Davis, as well as receiving the best medical support from Craig Purdam and Shane Lemcke, who have always given me confidence that I would be able to get back on court and compete to a standard I aspire to.

“I am indebted to Mike Johnson who has guided my playing career whilst based in the UK and for everything he has done in helping me achieve my goals.

“Off-court, I am grateful for the belief and confidence shown in me by Paul Walters, particularly when I was a young professional and there was no guarantee of success, and to my sponsor Wilson, whose rackets, footwear and clothing have made a crucial difference to my performance,” added Ricketts.

“The life of a touring professional can often be a lonely one and I feel privileged to have enjoyed the friendship of so many players who I have competed with and against, as well as everyone in England who have made me feel so welcome over the past ten years - without their warm and genuine hospitality, my squash career would have been very lonely and no-where near as enjoyable."

“Finally, my family and girlfriend Shelley (Kitchen) cannot be thanked enough and it is unfortunate that the ones you care for the most have to be the ones who share the disappointments and frustrations that come with being an athlete!” Ricketts concluded.

Tributes to the young Australian acknowledging the achievements of his eleven year playing career have been received from many of those who have worked with the former World No.3, these include Paul Walters of internationalSPORTgroup, the squash specialist marketing and management company who have represented the Australian star over the past four years, Gary O'Donnell, Squash Australia Chief Executive Officer, Alex Selch, Wilson Sporting Goods Global Business Director Indoor Racquet Sports, Peter Fricker, Director of the Australian Institute of Sport, Gawain Briars, Professional Squash Association Chief Executive, and Australian squash legend and eight-time British Open Champion Geoff Hunt.

Paul Walters of internationalSPORTgroup, said: “Very few professional players have been able to match Anthony’s level of intensity and desire to be the best. His unflinching approach has won him many admirers and his honesty and sincerity many friends.

“Anthony is one of the most professional and successful players that internationalSPORTgroup has represented, but above everything else he has been a close and loyal friend. His injury has undoubtedly robbed him of many future titles which make it even more poignant that he should have won the British Open in 2005, a title that as a proud Australian, he treasured above all others. It was a privilege to share his triumph on that day and to share a valued friendship which will continue regardless of which direction his career now takes him.”

Squash Australia Chief Executive Officer, Gary O'Donnell, added: "Anthony is a great loss to Australia's national team as he has been a strong and consistent performer at representative level. He was twice selected in Australian teams to compete in the Commonwealth Games; 2002 in Manchester and 2006 in Melbourne where he medalled in both events and for Australia's Team in the World Teams Championships in 2003 and 2005, the last of which Anthony was named captain of the Australian team. We are grateful for his fantastic contribution and wish him well for the future."

Wilson Sporting Goods Global Business Director Indoor Racquet Sports, Alexander Selch said: “Wilson has a developed a close relationship with Anthony over the past three years and we are proud that he has achieved his greatest success using our products. Whilst his presence on the World Tour will be greatly missed, I am sure that he will be successful at whatever he decides to do within the sport, and Wilson look forward to continuing our relationship and supporting him on his journey ahead.”

Professional Squash Association Chief Executive, Gawain Briars said: "It is with real sadness that I hear the news of Anthony's retirement from the professional game. This young man has been a model member of the PSA and has played his squash with 100% commitment. It is possibly because of Anthony's huge commitment to his training regimes that wear and tear has caught up with his body forcing him to make this decision at this time. He has the titles behind him and he can always be proud of the achievements he gained in his time as a professional. Whilst he will be missed from the circuit I hope we shall continue to see Anthony within squash circles. PSA wishes him the best of luck in his next ventures"

Peter Fricker, Director of the Australian Institute of Sport: “The Australian Institute of Sport has been a proud contributor to the career of Anthony Ricketts for the past decade. Sadly injury has cut his career short but we thank him for being a wonderful ambassador for the AIS and squash and wish him well in retirement.”

Geoff Hunt, who has been instrumental in Anthony’s development into one of the sports leading players, concluded: “I have seen Anthony develop over a 12 year period from a young promising junior to a one of the world’s best professional players. He always had a fantastic work ethic putting everything into his training sessions to become perhaps the fittest player I have seen and earning him the nickname “The Machine.”

Issued by iSQUASHmedia.com

Australian squash player Anthony Ricketts has announced his retirement from the men’s professional World Tour having been unable to return to full fitness following surgery to repair cartilage damage to his right knee.