Pro tennis player trains in Burlington, joins in youth practices

By Bob Sutton

Special to The Alamance News

Professional tennis player Leo Vithoontien has been training in Burlington and he’s happy about that. So is Burlington Tennis Center director Randy Scott.

Vithoontien’s presence has been a boost to the youth programs at the facility.

“The benefit of having him here is having him to talk to the kids,” Scott said. “It just serves as an inspiration for the kids.”

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Leo Vithooentien poses with tennis players involved in Burlington Tennis Center’s youth program.

Vithoontien, who’s from Bangkok, Thailand, is a former NCAA Division III national champion.

Scott, who has been director at Burlington Tennis Center for about 3½ years, is an Alamance County native. But he spent a considerable chunk of his adult life overseas, particularly in Thailand.

Scott was coach of the high school that Vithoontien eventually attended. While Scott moved to another part of the country, his credentials were well-known.

“I heard about him and when I started getting serious in high school, I contacted him,” Vithoontien said. “We just clicked from there.”

Vithoontien, 24, has Thai and Japanese citizenship and a world ranking of No. 830. That mark has been rising the past couple of years. He’s in his third year in the International Tennis Federation.

Playing for Carlton College in Minnesota, Vithoontien was the NCAA Division III singles and doubles champion (with teammate Xander Zuczek) as a senior in 2021. He was 13-0 in an abbreviated final season and held a career 78-9 singles record. He was the 2019 singles runner-up.

Zuczek is from Rhode Island, so Vithoontien joined him there during the pandemic in the summer of 2020. Scott relocated for a couple of months to train the duo in Rhode Island.

“I never really thought about going pro,” Vithoontien said of coming out of college. “I told myself I would give it at least five years.”

After a year in graduate school at Durham University in the United Kingdom, Vithoontien began training in Florida and playing in professional tournaments. He reconnected with Scott last fall. After playing in events in Asia and South America earlier this year, he’s back in the U.S.

“I’ll play three or four tournaments in a row and then I’ll come back here to refocus and train,” Vithoontien said.

Scott said it has been valuable to have the professional player on site. Often, he’ll hit with some of the more advanced teenagers at the center.

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Leo Vithooentien and Randy Scott during a training session.

“It helps having him here,” Scott said. “This has been great for our players here for them to have this type of experience.”