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Kepenekian signs pro contract

WOMEN'S BASKETBALL: Former Burbank standout and All-Area player of the year will play for team in Armenia.

September 07, 2010|By Edgar Melik-Stepanyan, Special to th Leader

LOS ANGELES — The last time Christine Kepenekian was at the Homenetmen Glendale Ararat Chapter facilities, she was being honored for her performance in the European Championship Women Division C Tournament in Yerevan, the Armenian capitol.

The Burbank High graduate and former member of the Ararat Women's Basketball team was showered with praise and later spoke about her dream of signing with a professional basketball team.

Her dream became a reality last week.

Kepenekian signed a contract to play with Hatis Yerevan, the top women's professional basketball team in Armenia. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.


"I'm doing what I love to do," she said. "I'm getting paid to play basketball. There's nothing better than that."

Her accomplishments were celebrated Wednesday at Ararat, where supporters and admirers congratulated a timid standout who has shied away from the spotlight that has been placed on her throughout her playing career.

"She's been well known in the Armenian community," said Carl Bardakian, the director of international scouting for Hatis Yerevan. "Her play for Ararat and her play at the European Championships brought the attention of Hatis Yerevan and its coaches."

Kepenekian, who was also a standout at Cal State Bakersfield, will play for Gia Kazanjian, who was her head coach for Armenia's national team. Armenia's national team took second in the European Championship Women Division C Tournament, as Kepenekian was awarded MVP honors after averaging 22.0 points, 7.0 rebounds, 4.4 assists and 3.6 steals per game.

Kepenekian said the transition to playing at the professional level should be made easier because of her comfort of playing for Kazanjian.

"I'm used to his coaching style and what he wants," she said.

There are still nerves, though.

"I haven't experienced [professional basketball], so I'm nervous," she said. "I'm anxious and nervous to see what the other teams have."

She also said she can't wait to report to Hatis. She'll leave for Armenia on Tuesday and training camp will begin Sept. 10, which is also when she'll celebrate her 25th birthday. Hatis Yerevan will play in the 38-team EuroCup, which starts Oct. 28.

"I look forward to going out there and playing for my home country," she said. "I feel like all the practices, all the sweat, all the injuries have made it worth while."

Her mom, Haikui, remembered taking her daughter to her first practice, and watching her compete against boys and girls more than a dozen years ago.

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