Local tennis director makes dream run into US Open

Anda Perianu and Andrei Deascu in mixed doubles action at the 2015 US Open.

Anda Perianu and Andrei Deascu in mixed doubles action at the 2015 US Open.

The journey to the US Open is undoubtedly a long, strenuous road requiring a full training schedule, and a serious commitment to the sport of tennis.  For Anda Perianu, a former professional who is now a tennis director in Ithaca, making it onto Court 14 in New York was nothing short of an extraordinary story.  

In the third round of the Sectional Qualifying for the US Open National Playoffs in Princeton, New Jersey, Perianu and her mixed doubles partner, Andrei Deascu, faced match point in the third set tiebreak. Down 8–9, Perianu was serving to the male opponent, a tall order given the magnitude of the situation. He missed the return, and two points later, Perianu and Daescu had won the match and advanced to the next round.

“We could have been out [of the tournament] right there,” Perianu said.

From that moment on, the duo did not drop another set — let alone another match — en route to a remarkable US Open main draw berth. They won 9 matches in total to earn a wild card into the mixed doubles draw at the most prestigious tennis tournament in the United States.


Perianu, the facility manager and tennis director at the Reis Tennis Center, had not competed professionally since 2009. Born and raised in Romania, she achieved a career-high world ranking of #120 in singles during her time on the tour, but moved to Ithaca in 2011 to start a family with her husband Silviu Tanasiou. They have two daughters, Mia and Jess. Perianu gave birth to Jess in October 2014.

“My daughter begged me to stop playing because it was taking too much time from away her, and she had a full on tantrum, it was hilarious,” Perianu said.

Tanasiou, who is the head coach of the men’s tennis team at Cornell University, spoke about the surprising run his wife made.

“There was a combination of being shocked, and then extremely proud at the same time,” Tanasiou said. “I was stunned just because she had our baby girl about 11 months ago, and I never thought she would be able to play tennis at this level ever again considering she is 35.”

Perianu’s workload as a facility manager as well as her responsibilities of raising two daughters severely limited the amount of time she was able to put into training. Perianu had played only one practice match with Daescu before setting off into competition.

“Obviously my priorities have changed,” Perianu said. “We used to spend two times a day training and for this tournament I trained once every three days.”

While there have been more than a few mothers play professionally at a very high level, it is certainly not commonplace. Ben Rothenberg, a contributing writer for the New York Times, covers tennis full time and spoke about the challenges mothers face when returning to tennis.

“It’s significantly tougher to be a mother on tour because pregnancy and childbirth keeps women off court for months at a time,” Rothenberg said. “But Perianu did not look out of place at all, and she and Daescu were very competitive against one of the toughest teams in the tournament.”

As Rothenberg mentioned, Perianu and Daescu drew a strong opponent in their first round match at the US Open. They faced Max Mirnyi and Anastasia Rodionova. Both are accomplished doubles players, and Mirnyi has won 4 major titles in mixed doubles. The Romanian pairing held their own, but were ultimately outplayed on the big points. Mirnyi and Rodionova won the match 6–2, 6–4.

Shortly after the final handshake, Perianu’s oldest daughter Mia ran onto the court to see her mom. Tanasiou reflected on that experience, which he describes as amongst the most special in his life.

I think that moment was the most special one,” Tanasiou said, smiling. “Mia runs on the court and jumps in Anda’s arms and hugs her. For me as a father and as Anda’s husband it was the most special thing to see them at the US Open.”

Back in Ithaca, Perianu is recovering from a few bumps and bruises as well as resuming her duties at the Reis Tennis Center. She mentioned that if all goes well she plans to enter the Wildcard tournament with Daescu again next year. She said that her memories from this year were so satisfying that she would love to try to do it again.

“For me the whole experience of being there with two kids, strolling around in the locker rooms, changing diapers, it was completely different experience from when I was there seven years ago,” Perianu said. “It was amazing to have both kids with you watching from the stands.”


Ithaca begins using mobile app to simplify parking

Green Parkmobile stickers with zone numbers can be seen on all pay machines and meters in Ithaca.

Green Parkmobile stickers with zone numbers can be seen on all pay machines and meters in Ithaca.

In an effort to make parking easier and more convenient for its residents, the City of Ithaca has teamed up with the parking app Parkmobile, which allows users to pay for parking from their smartphone. The free app requires is a license plate number and credit card information to create an account.
“With Parkmobile, you don’t even have to get out of your car to use it,” said Frank Nagy, Ithaca’s Director of Parking. “No more chasing quarters in your car, no more standing in the elements, no more standing in the rain and no more waiting in line to use the pay machine.”

Parkmobile, LLC, which originated in the Netherlands, has been rapidly expanding since moving to Atlanta, Georgia in 2008. Since Parkmobile first came to Ithaca a few months ago, the city has implemented over 1,000 parking meters throughout the city.

When a user pulls into a parking spot, they will find a green sticker with a parking zone number located on the meter or pole in place of a removed meter. When this number is typed into a new transaction, the built-in GPS picks up the location of the meter and the payment can be made. Once the transaction is complete, the app sends notifications as a reminder of parking duration. A user can extend their parking time at any point from their phone without having the inconvenience of returning to the car.

Director of Marketing for Parkmobile, Tina Dyer, believes that the app’s expansion into a small city like Ithaca will make parking in the area easy to sustain, resulting in financial benefits.

“The City of Ithaca will see an increase in revenue from using the service, while also seeing a decrease in administrative and maintenance costs by not having people go out there and collecting cash and coins and servicing the meters,” said Dyer.

Parkmobile also aims to help reduce the amount of tickets given to Ithaca residents.
“The data on the app will allow me to adjust rates, control how much parking is needed for an individual street or zone,” said Nagy. “Compliance is what we are looking for, the higher amount of compliance the lower amount of tickets issued.”

Ithaca resident Priscilla Timberlake recently downloaded the Parkmobile app and states that it has simplified the parking process.

“For me it is just not very convenient to have to walk over and deal with the machines. Sometimes it is over a block away and a bit of a pain in the butt,” said Timberlake.

Nagy also stated that Parkmobile will soon be available for use in parking garages around Ithaca, in addition to its meters.

Nagy’s first priority, however, is to continue to spread the word about the app’s arrival to the community. “We will hit the streets and hand out information. Parkmobile is posted on the back of each meter and on every other meter post that we took out. We will put out press releases and continue our work at fairs and events throughout the city,” said Nagy.

For those who are not the most technologically savvy, Timberlake can relate, stating that technology can be intimidating, but this app is nothing to be afraid of.

“For us old-timers it’s not so easy to use technology. I understand it is the way of the future but it’s a little bit of an adjustment to use,” Timberlake said. “It’s just easy once you download it.”

Lifestyle technology app grows in Ithaca

Companies like RosieApp, an online shopping app for ordering and delivering groceries, are becoming more common in Ithaca and Tompkins County. Apps are one example of growth in the county’s technology sector.

RosieApp was founded in 2013 and now has over 34 locations in 12 states nationwide. It opened its headquarters in the Ithaca Commons in July 2015.

“There’s definitely a growing trend for tech businesses,” said Phyllisa DeSarno, director of economic development for the City of Ithaca. DeSarno, who helps attract businesses to Ithaca and encourage their development, said the culture of technology jobs in Ithaca is changing.

“We’re very, very happy that some of these entrepreneurs coming out of Cornell and IC and TC3 are thinking about staying right in the area, it’s what we’ve been hoping for,” DeSarno said.

She explained that in the past, students would build businesses in Ithaca, then move with the businesses to other regions. However, this trend is changing.

“Because we have become more and more attractive as a place to live,” DeSarno said, “I think more and more students who come here, grad students and even undergrad, think, ‘How can I make this my home?’”

RosieApp is an example of this. The app was launched  by Cornell University Johnson Graduate School of Management alumni Jon Ambrose and Nick Nickitas in September 2012.

The app allows customers to shop for their groceries online, and either pick up their order in store or have it delivered to their home that same day.  

Regional Sales Manager Jeremy Davidson said  one of the best aspects of the app is the accessibility that Rosie provides to its users.

“You get to reach out to those who can’t make it to the store, such as senior citizens,” Davidson said. “It helps mothers and young parents to shop without the hassle of going to the store. There are really just so many benefits for all parties involved.”

The name Rosie is based off of the robot in the television show “The Jetsons,” said co-founder and chief operating officer Jon Ambrose.  

Continue reading

Ithaca’s Southside center searches for more funding, volunteers

Found inside the gym of the Southside Community Center, this mural documents the pride that the center has in the community.

Found inside the gym of the Southside Community Center, this mural documents the pride that the center has in the community.

Despite budgetary challenges, the directors of Southside Community Center continue to maintain the ultimate goal of educating young children.  

Due to recent budget cuts and heavy expenses, after school program director, Petula McBean, said she had difficulty raising enough funds to ensure that all thirty children in the program are fed and provided the necessary tools to excel.

“Every year it’s very difficult,” said McBean referring to the budget. “Most years I’ve gone out and have been begging.  I’ll send letters to Wegmans, the hospital, Ithaca College and that’s why we get those donations,” the likes of which keep the center alive.

Southside Community Center runs an after school program for about thirty children within the Ithaca community. The building, which has been in the South Plain street location for more than two decades, is used to help educate children ages 5-12.

Continue reading

How To Say No To GMO

Look for this label on your foods to ensure they're GMO free

Look for this label on your foods to ensure they’re GMO free

Unless you have been living under a rock for the past few years, you have probably heard of the term “genetically modified organisms,” more commonly known as GMOs. GMOs are living organisms whose genetic material has been modified in a laboratory through genetic engineering. This often results in a product that does not naturally occur in nature, but does offer great sales on the shelves.

Most of the food products today are GMO products. Unless you buy organic and read every label, you most likely are purchasing and consuming a non-natural product.

Most developed nations do not consider GMOs to be safe. In fact, more than 60 countries around the world have placed significant restrictions on the production and sales of GMOs. In the United States, however, the government has approved GMOs based on the research conducted by the same corporations that created the studies and profit from their sales.

Most GMOs aren’t even labeled, furthering the risk of consumption by the majority of our population. In the U.S., GMOs are in as much as 80% of conventional processed foods. Check out this list for the current crops at risk of GMOs.

While our grocery stores are ridden with GMO products, here are some ways to shop smart and avoid those unnatural products:

  1. Buy Organic. Certified organic products cannot include an GMO ingredients. You can be doubly sure if the product also has a Non-GMO Project Verified Seal on it. Check out the USDA’s website to learn more about the organic standards.
  2. Look for NonGMO Product Seals. The products with these seals are independently verified to be in compliance with North America’s only third party standard for GMO avoidance. The Non-GMO Project is committed to providing consumer with clearly labeled Non-GMO choices, so you can be sure of the product you are purchasing.
  3. Avoid atrisk ingredients. The 8 GM food crops are Corn, Soybeans, Canola, Cottonseed, Sugar Beets, Hawaiian Papaya, and a small amount of zucchini and Yellow Squash. If a non-organic product made in North America lists sugar as an ingredient (not pure cane sugar) then it is probably a combination of sugar from sugar cane and GM sugar beets. Also for dairy, look for labels stating N rBGH, rBST, or artificial hormones.

Consuming a GMO product every once in a while will probably not hurt you. But to keep yourself healthy and happy, always be cautious and aware of what you are consuming. For more tips on how to purchase non-GMO, check out this shopping guide.

Do-It-Yourself Hummus Recipe

In light of last week’s Sabra Hummus Recall, many of you may be reconsidering purchasing the company’s hummus, or trying to find a new brand of hummus you like just as well.

But instead of buying this week’s supply of hummus, you could try making some yourself.

Making your own hummus is typically cheaper, you can make whatever flavors you desire, and you won’t have to worry about possible Listeria contaminations.

Here are some simple ways to create your own flavorful hummus:

The basic recipe for any good hummus is:

Mix together in a blender or food processor:

-1 15-oz can of chickpeas

-1 clove garlic

-¼ cup olive oil

-2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

-2 tablespoons tahini seeds/sauce

-1 teaspoon ground cumin


-¼ paprika

voila, you’re ready to dip!

Now try adding your own flare to the hummus by adding things such as avocado, red peppers, jalapenos, black beans, garlic, pesto, sun-dried tomatoes, flavorful herbs and more!

Don’t be afraid to experiment. Hummus is one of the easiest things to make, and to fix.

And remember, what you dip with is just as important as the dip itself. Some of my personal favorite ways to eat hummus is with carrots, cherry tomatoes, blue corn tortilla chips, peppers, or of course, a spoon.

For more recipes and DIY hummus ideas, check out these posts.

Happy snacking!

Local Ithaca group saves over 500 dogs from euthanization

After taking one glance at the wagging tail and permanently happy face, you never would have guessed that Bart, the fluffy golden-brown Pekingese, was once a homeless and abused dog in Tennessee about to be euthanized at a local dog shelter.

Bart is just one of the over 500 dogs that the local organization, Cayuga Dog Rescue has helped save.

Cayuga Dog Rescue was founded in 2005 by Susan Wiser, a dog enthusiast on a mission to improve the lives of abandoned dogs and find them a safe and happy home with residences in and around the Ithaca and Syracuse areas.

“We started Cayuga Dog Rescue back in 2005 to fill a need. There are a phenomenal amount of dogs who get euthanized every year simply because of overcrowding in shelters,” said Wiser.

Cayuga Dog Rescue relies on a group of dedicated volunteers to ensure that all dogs find safe and healthy homes.

“The process of finding and rescuing these dogs is fairly simple”, said Megan Adams, a volunteer who has been working with Cayuga Dog Rescue since last October.

“The hard part is training and convincing these dogs that they are now in a safe environment,” said Adams.

Wiser has a contact in Tennessee and Kentucky who rescues these dogs from high kill shelters and takes care of them until Wiser herself can either go pick up the dogs or arrange for them to be driven up to Ithaca.

Wiser also takes in local homeless dogs from the streets, or any dogs that the shelters in Ithaca do not have space for.

After the dogs arrive in Ithaca, the volunteers of Cayuga Dog Rescue take in these abused dogs, feed them, provide medical care, properly train them and work on any fears that they may have had in their previous life so they are ready for a family environment.

“Once the dogs receive all of the best care and love that we can give them we start looking for homes for them,” said Adams.

Judy Veley adopted her pup Sandy, an abandoned mutt found in Tennessee, at the end of February.

“Our previous dog had recently passed away and we weren’t looking for a new pet just yet. But one day I was checking out the Cayuga Dog Rescue website and stumbled upon a picture of Sandy,” said Veley. “I didn’t know if my partner or I were ready for a new member of the family just yet, but we had to give it a shot after seeing her picture.”

Veley contacted Cayuga Dog Rescue about Sandy, and the interview process quickly began.

All potential adopters must go through a structured interview process with members of the organization. Once this process is complete the dogs are brought over to the potential home and introduced to their surroundings and any other animals occupying the house.

If both parties react positively then paperwork is set in place and soon a family is welcoming a happy and cuddly addition to their home.

“For dogs in high kill shelters we are saving their lives and providing them with forever-homes. For the local dogs that don’t have any place to go we are providing that for them so they don’t have to live on the streets,” said Wiser.

Cayuga Dog Rescue is expanding their organization and opening their doors to as many dogs as possible.

“To be able to take in and help nurse these dogs back to the state they were once in is a great transformation to be a part of,” said Adams.

For more information on Cayuga Dog Rescue and how to adopt, check out their website!