SPARTANBURG, S.C. – Two members of the UNCG women’s tennis team, Nancy Bridges and Erika Barquero, were honored by the Southern Conference on Tuesday, April 16th. Bridges was named First Team All-SoCon in singles, Barquero earned All-Freshman honors and the two paired for a First Team doubles selection.
Bridges is the first player from UNCG to be named First Team All-SoCon since the 2013 season, when Niltooli Wilkins earned the distinction. Bridges is fourth different Spartan to claim a spot on the league’s first team, joining the ranks of Arielle Van Strolley (2007), head coach Ale Guerra (2008, 2009) and Wilkins (2011, 2012, 2013).
Bridges tied for the second-most wins on the season (10), all of which came from the No. 1 seed. All four of her league wins have come in succession, beginning with a 7-5, 5-4 victory against Western Carolina’s Jordan Strickland on March 28. She followed that by winning a 6-7 (4-6), 6-3, 6-3 match against Grace Jennings (Samford), garnering SoCon Player of the Week honors.
The lone senior on UNCG’s squad, Bridges continued her hot streak with a three-set win over Chattanooga’s Delaney Edwards (6-2, 4-6, 6-2) before closing out the regular season with a win over ETSU’s Laylo Bakhodirova by scores of 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (7-2).
Barquero becomes the sixth Spartan to garner SoCon All-Freshman team honors and third from UNCG be named to the unit in as many years, joining teammates Sophia Adams and Brianna Gomez. The previous UNCG All-Freshman selections include Lucy Dougherty (2009), Alex Whitehead (2010), Yasmin Franco (2014), Adams (2017) and Gomez (2018),
Barquero capped off her first year with nine victories and was 5-2 in SoCon play, winning six matches as the No. 3 seed. The Caguas, Puerto Rico, native claimed her first league win over Furman’s Julia Adams (6-3, 6-4) on March 13. Three days later she came through with a 6-3, 6-1 win over Lilie Steryous (Wofford). Barquero notched her third win against a SoCon opponent on March 30, when she downed Samford’s Elas Pool by scores of 6-4, 6-4.
The final two conference victories for Barquero came against Chattanooga’s Polina Goloputova (6-3, 7-6) and ETSU’s Alejandra Morales (6-3, 6-4).
The team of Bridges and Barquero become the seventh duo to earn First Team All-SoCon doubles honors for the Spartans in program history and the first since 2013. The other teams consisted of Von Strolley / Erica Zobkar (2007), Guerra / Von Strolley (2008), Guerra / Von Strolley (2009), Von Strolley / Valerie Behr (2009), Alex Whitehead / Stephanie Macfarlane (2011), Wilkins / Lucy Dougherty (2011), Wilkins / Dougherty (2012) and Wilkins / Whitehead (2013).
The combination of Bridges and Barquero in doubles action resulted in seven wins for the Spartans, including four in SoCon play. All 13 of their matches in 2019 came against opposing No. 1 seeds. The first SoCon victory for the pair came against Katie Sidor / Celine Schepers (Mercer), who they downed 6-2.
The duo rattled off four straight wins, three in SoCon play. The first league win came against Western Carolina’s Jordan Strickland / Savannah Taranto, who they downed 5-3. That was followed by a 6-3 victory against the tandem of Holly Horsfall / Elsa Pool (Samford). After a non-conference win over Elon’s Maria Paraja / Alex Koniaev, they triumphed 6-3 over the Chattanooga tandem of Delaney Edwards / Emma Van Hee.
The Spartans return to action on Thursday, April 18th, when they take on Samford at 8:30 a.m. in the first round of the Southern Conference tournament in Macon, Ga.