Professional Tennis Standout Turned Nurse Practitioner

By Paul Harasim

SabrinaYou won’t find many, if any, nurse practitioners with Sabrina Capannolo Eisinga’s background. Nor will you find many with her workout schedule.

Today she is a UNLV School of Medicine OB-GYN nurse practitioner, but played professional tennis for five years before deciding to embark on a career in nursing.

“I have found that the mental and emotional toughness you need in athletics, which includes the ability to manage stress, has helped in nursing,” says the woman whose playing career included tournaments in New Zealand, Central America and throughout Europe.

Now in her early 30s and the mother of two young children, Eisinga was once a tennis sensation in Las Vegas as a teenager. At Silverado High School—she was Sabrina Capannolo before marriage—she was the Nevada state champion in 2001 and named to the high school All-American Team.

Prior to turning professional in 2007, she attended Arizona State University on a full tennis scholarship, majoring in kinesiology. Rising to the team’s No.1 spot—she recorded the most overall singles wins on the team from 2003 to 2004 with 28 and rose to the Sweet 16 at the Pac-10 Championships—she beat the NCAA’s defending champion before turning pro.

Like most young female tennis stars, she started on a professional satellite tour with the hope of earning enough points to join the Women’s Tennis Association’s (WTA) elite circuit. Her wins didn’t pile up enough, however, to join the likes of Serena and Venus Williams on the WTA tour.

Sabrina“It wasn’t a glamorous life,” Eisinga says. “I was traveling by myself, with no coach or physical trainer. I couldn’t afford a trainer. I was always trying to find housing because hotels were so expensive. I was breaking even or losing money … I got burnt out.”

Long an admirer of the healthcare profession, a sister is now a physician and a brother is in his fourth year of medical school, she earned a bachelor’s degree in nursing at Nevada State College and began working at Sunrise Hospital in labor and delivery.

She thrived in her position, yet as much as she enjoyed her work, she wanted more responsibility, so she enrolled in UNLV’s nurse practitioner program. When she graduated in December, she was thrilled to join the UNLV School of Medicine OB-GYN team.

She says what makes her a better nurse, mother and wife is a three-day-a-week workout program that includes: running three miles; using the stair master for 20 minutes; doing 200 abdominal exercises; and working out for 10 minutes on the endless arm rope machine. When she works out, her husband, former UNLV tennis star Les Eisinga, who now works in commercial real estate, shares child watching duties along with her parents.

She also plays one hour of tennis each week with her husband and is just starting a thrice weekly weight training program for her upper and lower body that includes lunges, squats and deadlifts.

“Workouts,” she says, “help with my overall mood and keep me energized throughout the day.”

In her new role, she is delivering primary healthcare to women. This includes well-woman care consisting of annual assessments, including: screening evaluation, immunizations based on age and risk factors, and counsel on preventative care. She directs prenatal management and works with women on family planning, fertility and urogynecology. Doctors deliver the babies.

“I’m working more closely with patients, whom I love,” Eisinga says. “I make a difference from the start.”