In a world full of wannabe influencers, it takes plenty of hard work to rise above the rest of the field and make your mark.
Paige Spiranac did exactly that with her golf social media presence but now there is a new contender for the crown in the form of tennis’ Rachel Stuhlmann.
The former University of Missouri player has given up her dream of going pro, and is now walking a different – and slightly more glamorous – career path.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, her supermodel looks and sporting prowess has earned her comparisons with Spiranac, and the St. Louis native provides followers with practice videos to improve their tennis game in between glamorous snaps at events or modeling outfits on the court.
Here, DailyMail.com’s tale-of-the-tape takes a look at how the two influencers stack up, including sporting prowess and social media followings…
Rachel Stuhlmann has become one of the most prominent tennis influencers in recent years
Stuhlmann was a student-athlete who previously played tennis at the University of Missouri
Could Stuhlmann now replace Paige Spiranac as sports most famous social media influencer?
Stuhlmann has earned comparisons to Spiranac in the way she presents herself online in combining aestheticism and passion for her former sport.
The Missouri native acknowledged the similarities and appreciates the success Spiranac has garnered – including a partnership with PointsBet and 3.7million Instagram followers.
‘I respect what Paige has done for the sport of golf so much!’ she told Maxim last year.
‘We have similar stories, and I aspire to continue to push the sport of tennis forward while being unapologetically me!’
She also told The Post in September: ‘I really like what she does in golf and so that’s what I’m trying to do in tennis.
‘I feel like I’ve been inspired for a while by Paige Spiranac. I respect her so much for what she’s done for the game.’
Stuhlmann has mutual friends with Spiranac and has previously expressed her interest in picking up a set of clubs herself in an unlikely partnership that has the potential to break the internet.
‘Someone told me that she wants to play tennis. I want to play golf. I’m like, “I will give you lessons!”‘
In terms of their respective social media followings, there is really no comparison.
Across Instagram, Twitter and TikTok, Spiranac has a combined 5.9m followers to Stuhlmann’s 417,000. And Spiranac is reported to rake in an estimated $12,000 per Instagram post.
Stuhlmann has earned comparisons to fellow beauty and golf student-athlete, Paige Spiranac
Spiranac is golf’s most famed influencer, combining glamor with her love for the sport
FORMER SPORTS STARS
Before gracing the courts as an influencer, Stuhlmann was a prodigious tennis star in St. Louis.
Prior to starting her collegiate career in 2010, Stuhlmann, who majored in nutrition and fitness at Mizzou, was ranked 68th in her class and 59th nationally by the Tennis Recruiting Network.
She spent four years at Mizzou but never had her eyes on the tour given the rigors associated with chasing the pro tennis dream.
‘I knew I was good enough and could eventually get there,’ she told The Sun. ‘But I thought the reality was that it would take me five to seven years to get to the top.
‘And I didn’t want to live the lifestyle that came along with playing in small cities and essentially living out of a car.’
Stuhlmann is a second generation Mizzou alum with her mother, as well as a pair of aunts and uncles graduating from the Columbia school.
Spiranac was a student-athlete in golf at both the University of Arizona and San Diego State. She left SDSU just two credits shy of her degree to pursue golfing and endorsement opportunities.
Her father was a football player who won the 1976 National Championship with the Pittsburgh Panthers, while Spiranac’s mother was a professional ballet dancer born in Croatia.
Before gracing the courts as an influencer, Stuhlmann was a prodigious tennis star in St. Louis
The Missouri native has leveraged her beauty and passion for tennis to increase her brand
Stuhlmann has said she’d give Spiranac tennis lessons if she ever wanted to try the sport
MORE THAN PHOTOSHOOTS
Tennis beauties such as Eugenie Bouchard, Maria Sharapova and Ana Ivanovic have received largely universal adoration and plentiful sponsorship opportunities on tour.
While they have made their mark on the court as well, Stuhlmann has used her social media and various other media roles — currently, she works as an events media manager for TopCourt — to provide a unique look behind the net.
Stuhlmann’s Instagram is routinely filled with on-court snaps in skimpy outfits, but also includes snapshots of her talents with the racket.
Often she is at Tour events across the nation and internationally, reporting on happenings, conducting interviews and attending player parties — explaining the less publicized glitz and glamor of the tennis tour.
Spiranac isn’t a reporter in the sense that Stuhlmann is, nor is she involved in the golf tours, though she does post the occasional trick shot and discuss topical content and issues swirling within the golf world.
While Stuhlmann often gives followers a snapshot into her sphere, it seems her private life remains exactly that.
Spiranac has spoken openly about her now-failed marriage to personal trainer Steven Tinoco in 2018.
In June 2022, she revealed she had secretly split from Tinoco. Although it is unclear exactly when the former couple parted, Spiranac said during a Q&A round on her podcast that she wasn’t married ‘for very long.’
Stuhlmann’s Instagram is routinely filled with on-court shorts of figure-hugging fits and balls
Often, she is at Tour events across the nation and internationally, reporting on the sport
‘My main goals are to make the game more mainstream and relatable. So whatever aligns with that,’ Stuhlmann told The Post.
‘I’ve always said yes to opportunities within the game and just keep creating content around the sport.
‘Get people excited about it, show them the different life stories around the game and in a positive way. That’s what I want to keep doing.
‘I have done so much in professional tennis, media, broadcasting, writing, marketing, sales, tournament sponsorships and partnerships, player relations, events and much more,’ she said via The Sun.
‘I decided I wanted to share the cool sides of the sport – the travel, the tournaments, fashion within the game… everything.
‘The response from people has been awesome. I have received so much support and so many messages from people all over the world telling me that they are now interested in tennis, picking up tennis, watching tennis, etc. It’s been pretty awesome.’
Stuhlmann believes Spiranac is something of an inspiration for her sports influencer role
Stuhlmann, who majored in nutrition and fitness at Mizzou, was ranked 68th in her class in HS
For now, it’s Spiranac who holds the crown for sport’s most famous influencer. But that doesn’t mean Stuhlmann has to settle for second place for good.
When there’s a big tennis event, Stuhlamm is there; recently, she was at Indian Wells and in the coming months, it would be no surprise to see her courtside on the clay in Paris or the green grass of Wimbledon.
Meanwhile, through no fault of Spiranac’s own, golf is enduring a rocky time as the emergence of LIV Golf fractures relationships between stars on the PGA Tour and those who have taken the Saudi millions on offer.
Both are supremely passionate about their respective sports and want to show off why golf and tennis are so much fun. And at the moment, the tennis tour looks like it’s a more enjoyable place to be.
Stuhlmann’s star is on the rise but at the moment, it is Spiranac who has a bigger profile