Rachel Stuhlmann tennis influencer and professional athlete is here to teach us all about the importance of Tennis. The model, influencer, and ex-tennis pro lives and breathes the sport, and has dedicated her life to shining a spotlight on it. With a driven personality like Rachel Stuhlmann behind it, Tennis as a sport is about to see a surge.
Also, check out: 10 Hot Golf Influencers to Spotlight Not Named Paige Spiranac
When did your love for tennis begin? Have you ever had a moment where you wanted to branch out and try other things, or was tennis always your love and you were sure of it?
My love for tennis began when I was only five years old, and I’ve loved it ever since. My whole life has been tennis; however, there was a short time right after college when I shifted much of my focus from the tennis world to fitness training. I think I was just so excited to be finished with only being able to do tennis-specific workouts and for the first time in my life, I had the freedom to do whatever workouts I wanted to!
I began weight training, working out extremely hard, and focusing on my nutrition. I went all in; I did two strategic workouts a day and followed a weighed-out meal plan given to me by a nutritionist who helped me reach my goals.
I began personal training people and athletes and even did some fitness modeling. Even though I loved this phase of life, I still knew that my calling was in the tennis space. There was a time when the two (fitness and tennis) did crossover when I shifted all my energy back into tennis. I personally trained many tennis players of all ages and levels- young juniors, college teams and players, USTA adult players, etc. In 2018, I even presented at the ITPA World Tennis Fitness Conference in Atlanta, which was a fantastic experience.
Your Instagram has 175K+ followers as of right now. That’s HUGE. Fame usually hits one like a freight train. What was your reaction when you woke up and realized you had amassed an enormous following?
When the first article came out saying that I was voted the World’s No. 1 Tennis Influencer, you’re right; it hit me like a freight train! In only a couple of hours, my accounts grew by tens of thousands of more followers, and I received so many messages from people around the world. It’s been so fun to see so many people show the same enthusiasm for the sport that I do and support me! I am very grateful.
You’ve made strides in becoming popular, and have officially been crowned as the “No.1 Tennis Influencer”. With that said, comparisons to the OG Insta Golf Girl Paige Spiranac have been quite frequent. What do you think about that, and does she have an influence on you?
To be honest, it’s an honor. Golf and tennis are so similar in the sense that they are very traditional and buttoned-up sports. Paige Spiranac has done so much for the sport of golf and has pushed the sport forward. I have been working hard to make the same impact in tennis. If I had to be compared to anyone, I am really happy it’s her!
When you were making this transition into the role of an influencer, using photoshoots to not only express yourself but also showcase how cool and fun tennis can be, and how personally dear it is to your heart, was the transition tough at all? Were you nervous, and if so how did you deal with it and overcome this challenge?
There was a time earlier in my career when I got a little nervous about how I would be perceived in the industry based on my appearance and style. For the past few years, I have put so much work into professional tennis, from media, broadcasting, marketing, writing, tournament sponsorships and partnerships, sales, events, player relations, and much more. I finally realized I could do all these things without changing who I am!
Nothing about my appearance changes my knowledge of the game. Tennis is important to me because it gives me a voice beyond my looks and gives me more depth as a person that I am proud of. I have always stayed true to my original goal from years ago, making the sport of tennis more mainstream and relatable.
You enrolled and then played for the University of Missouri before becoming an influencer and online personality. What would you say was the craziest story or the most bizarre moment you experienced during a match?
I have two stories. One time I was playing a doubles match in college, and I was at the net and went to hit a volley. My racket completely snapped in half when I made contact with the ball, like between the throat and the racket head. So I was standing there just holding the grip, with the racket head on the ground behind me. It was crazy! But also really funny.
The other time happened in other doubles match against the No. 1 team in the nation at the time, the Florida Gators. We were in the middle of a really exciting, well-played (by both teams) doubles point. In the middle of the point, our opponent hit a really tough cross-court angle shot, and I was pulled so far off the court to run and get it. I sprinted to the ball and not only got to it but hit one of the best shots of my life- a winner right between both players.
I was so excited that I turned around fast to essentially jump up or something (I don’t know what I was trying to do) and I turned into some fence sticking out between our court and the court next to us. It hit me right in the chest, and my breath was knocked out of me for a split second. It took me a second to realize what had happened, but it was pretty funny. My partner was laughing.
You’re on a mission to bring authenticity to your audience, to feel yourself and make self-love ‘sexy’ while also being relatable and talking about the one thing you love more than anything else in the world; tennis. For those that may struggle with self-love, how would you recommend people learn to love the skin they’re in?
One of the biggest things I have learned is that once you truly start being yourself, things around you start falling into place. There is a certain peace that comes along with being truly you. People will judge you no matter what you do, so you might as well be happy and be yourself.
You’ve mentioned the array of influencers and people representing and bringing attention to golf and being active on the golf scene, but one of your primary motivations to cover tennis as an influencer was that there almost seems to be no love or courage for the sport. What kind of pressure did this endeavor bring, and how did you manage to push on despite it?
No pressure! I love the game. I don’t want to just be known as a model who is all about me. I love being attached to tennis- a sport that I love so much!
During college, what was your experience like managing your studies and playing as an athlete? How were you able to strike a balance between those 2 rigorous but different aspects of your life? People these days have to learn to juggle multiple different aspects of their own lives to be on top of things, so if there are any tips you can share with our readers on the subject that would be incredible.
I loved being an athlete, and playing college tennis taught me many qualities—time management, work ethic, and resilience. Committing to my studies was not as easy for me as developing my tennis career. Fortunately, I was provided with great tutors and mentors at Mizzou that helped me stay on top of my studies. Sometimes outsourcing and working as a team with other people is a good way to succeed.
I was super disciplined with my training and workout routines, and once I finished playing in college, I transferred that into my professional career. Now instead of preparing and training for big tennis matches, I focus on everything I have going on in my professional life and how I can best show up for all the various work I do within the sport.
With Instagram being your main platform right now, are there any other social media platforms you’d like to grow, and why?
Yes, definitely! I started tweeting a bunch this year, and it’s been so fun interacting with my followers there. TikTok has also been an entertaining platform for me! I use TikTok to post videos of me actually playing tennis. It’s funny- recently, a guy on my IG commented on a picture and said something like, “All you do is pose. Why don’t you post any videos of you playing?” And I was like, “Go look on my TikTok. I post videos of me playing on there all the time!”
If you could sum up your love for tennis and what it means to you on a personal level in just one sentence, or better yet just one word, what would it be?
I feel like everyone I have met in my life and every place that I have traveled to is because of the sport of tennis. It’s pretty incredible. The sport has opened up so many doors and opportunities for me and introduced me to some of my best friends. I feel like the sport means everything to me.
For any aspiring tennis players, what would your advice to them regarding the best strategy for approach or course of action be?
It definitely depends on your goals. If you have a young child who wants to be a tennis professional when they grow up, I think it is important to start young and seek good guidance/advice. There are resources and tennis academies out there to help prepare kids for successful professional tennis careers.
If you just want to have fun and play with your friends, it’s simple! I know that some people can feel intimidated- but just put your tennis shoes on, get a racket and balls and get out to a court and have fun. There are excellent resources like TopCourt.com out there that can help teach you how to play tennis as well.
For more about Rachel Stuhlmann follow her on Instagram.