The 19-year-old who, when he is not on a squash court can be found swimming lengths of Edinburgh's Royal Commonwealth Pool to supplement his training, does not want to simply tread water as he enters the senior ranks.
Glasgow 2014 is very much in his mind as he prepares for a season where he is in with the "big fishes". Ranked 217 in the world, he caused more than a few ripples last weekend by extending the Scottish No 1, Alan Clyne, world-ranked 27th, to five games in the final of the North of Scotland Open. It was the first time the players had met in a tournament and Kempsell took great heart from his early-season performance.
"I wasn't expected to get to the final last weekend [he beat Greg Lobban, world-ranked 99th in the semi-final]. I'd like to think there wasn't a lot in it but Alan used his experience," said Kempsell, who had no chance of facing a rematch at this weekend's Scottish National Championships at Heriot-Watt University as Clyne was playing in the Kuwait Cup against the world's best.
"I was 2-1 up on games and had gone 9-3 up in the third so I felt I was quite comfortable. I felt good but just couldn't push on and he just pulled away, he's such a fit guy. Trying to compete with him at that level over five games is tough. Hopefully, I gave him a fright and it shows I'm not far behind. I don't think there was much in it throughout the game in terms of shot quality. We were both hitting winners and making mistakes but he just showed his class in the end. He won't give up on any shot, he's a fighter and he has that extra gear to go up if he's in trouble.
"I look up to Alan and see what he has done. He's done some incredible things."
Clyne looks certain to gain a singles place at Glasgow 2014 and Kempsell is in the frame to make the Scotland team in the doubles if he maintains his current rate of progress.
Inverurie's Peter Nicol struck Commonwealth gold for Scotland in 1998 but then switched allegiance to England three years later as he did not feel the facilities in Scotland matched his ambitions. That cannot be said today with Kempsell training daily – sometimes he is on court as early as 7am – at Heriot-Watt where he has all the support he needs to get his ranking into the top 100.
As we speak, it is to the resonance of a squash ball thumping against a wall, and you can almost sense an impatience from Kempsell to get back to doing what he does best. But there was a time when another sport was vying for his attention.
"I played a lot of rugby and started that when I was about six or seven and it got to the stage where both sports were competing for my time," he says. "It wasn't unusual to have a rugby match and a squash tournament on the same weekend. I had to make the choice when I was about 14 to commit to one sport. It was a difficult decision but I enjoyed squash so much and I was doing quite well at the time.
"I don't know if I was swayed because it was an individual sport and it would be down to my own way of doing things. It just felt right. From there, there was no one tournament or result which I felt was a breakthrough but it was just a gradual progression. I won my first junior Scotland cap when I was 12. From there, I went on to play for Scotland at Under-15, Under-17 and Under-19 European Championships."
Kempsell signed off his junior career in style last April at the European Under-19 Championships in Portugal where he won all seven of his matches, although it was not enough to gain a team medal for Scotland.
Kempsell is immersed in the game now. When he is not training, he works part-time on reception and in the bar at Edinburgh Sports Club, a squash and tennis club. Getting to Glasgow 2014, which he fully realises will be a once-in-a-lifetime chance to compete in a major event on his doorstep, will require moving up in the world.
"It takes time to climb the rankings. When your ranking is so low it is difficult to get into tournaments. If you do manage to get into a tournament, you tend to play opponents who are much higher ranked. It's tough but you're still getting match experience. It's just a case of getting into these tournaments and progressing. I need to get my world ranking up there. By the end of this year, I'm hoping to be in the top 150 at least. I need to get myself recognised as one of the top players in Scotland and show I have that ambition."
With that, it's interview over – "I need to get back on court and whack a ball about," he says – but he intends to stick around world squash for a while yet.
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