Oxfordshire squash professional Mark Cairns has announced his retirement from the international scene, at the age of 34.

Cairns, from Abingdon, joined the ranks of the Professional Squash Association in 1987, reaching his peak in 1995, when he was rated No 10 in the world.

His retirement will come as something of a surprise to many in the game, because only last year, Cairns was playing some of his best squash ever.

Just two months ago, he picked up his first PSA tour title in six years in Zurich, Switzerland.

However, Cairns has decided to call it a day after he was offered the post of general manager at the Winchester Tennis & Squash Club. He will continue to play league squash.

Cairns earned six England caps as a junior and 21 as a senior, and one of his most memorable victories came in the 1999 World Team championships in Cairo, when England played Australia in the bronze medal play-off.

Cairns was pitted against the toughest of opponents in Rodney Eyles, and he came from behind to win the match for England.

"Rod was ranked ten in the world at the time, and I think I was around the mid-20s," Cairns said. "I remember being 2-0 down to him and coming back to win 3-2. We had to win that rubber to stand a chance of bronze, and we ended up winning the medal."

If that was one of the highlights of his team career, his individual highlights were also plentiful.

He was already making a name for himself in 1982, when he finished as runner-up in the English Under 16 Championships, but he went one better three years later when he picked up the under 19 crown.

In 1997, he won the British Closed Championship, and less than 12 months later, picked up the prestigious World Doubles Championship title with Chris Walker, also winning bronze at the 1998 Commonwealth Games in Kuala Lumpar, Malaysia.

"Winning the bronze was great, and was a real highlight of my career, but just being at the Games themselves was my abiding memory.

"Spending time in the Games village and seeing everyday stars was fantastic."

Just two months ago, Cairns proved he could still mix it with the top players in the game when he beat Swiss No 1 Lars Harms in the final of the Grasshopper Cup in Zurich, but he says that the pressure of earning money as a professional just doesn't appeal to him any more.

"I still love playing the game, but it's a young man's sport," he said. "When you have to take it so seriously, having to earn money to pay your mortgage, it just gets too much after a while, and you can't enjoy it as much.

"If you are having a bad spell, you just don't earn any money at all, and at my time of life, I need a little job security and guaranteed work."

Cairns revealed that the job offer came as a bolt out of the blue, but added that he always had ambitions to get into club management.

"I have been thinking about a change for a year or two, and I always hoped I could move in this direction," he said. "I didn't really want to be a club pro or get into coaching too much, but the sport is what I know, and I was delighted to be given the chance.

"I will probably also step down from my county commitments, but I hope to continue playing domestic league squash and the odd national tournament. I want to take each one as it comes, instead of having the pressure of travelling all over the world."

Cairns also plans to keep up his television work for Sky TV.