To me, this regional is the one to watch. Vassar had an okay season and I think their result against Hopkins will be similar to when the 2 teams played in early March. Hopkins wins 5-0 and may be tested in one of the doubles matches. Williams will post a similar result in their round of 32 setting up a blockbuster Sweet 16 match.
Both teams have very similar make-ups and that’s why I think this will be so interesting. The story here is about who can get over the hump mentally. Williams has a young coach who has done this as a player, but this is a very different spot compared to where they were last year. Last year, they slipped in the beginning of the season and that cost them an NCAA seeding, so they had to go on the road as an underdog and played Amherst tough before losing. This year they come in as the host and the favorite, but no one on the team has won a match of this magnitude before. They have to draw confidence from the Midd match in the NESCAC semifinal, but the Ephs haven’t exactly been super consistent this year. Again, I think there’s a lot of pressure on Dan Greenberg to produce after falling short last year. Honestly, I question the ability of both coaches to prepare their teams mentally for a match like this. It’s one thing if your team is significantly more talented and just has to go out and win, but these 2 are pretty much dead even. I think Hopkins has an edge in doubles, but Williams may have an edge deep in the singles lineup. Both teams are deep and good, but not incredible, at the top. Hopkins has to get over last year’s debacle as well as the TCNJ loss in 2008 which some of their guys remember very well. That’s not easy to do against a team like Williams on the road. I can’t bring myself to pick in favor of Hopkins in the tournament with their track record, so I’m going with Hopkins up 2-1 after doubles and Williams ends up winning 5-4 in a match that goes deep into the 3rd set. It’s going to be about who is mentally tougher and who wants it more.