Last Sunday, Arkie Engle drove nine hours and 450 miles from Massachusetts, hoping to bring in the new year with his first amateur singles championship in more than a year. Yesterday, the top seed realized that goal with a 6-4, 2-6, 7-5 victory over Claes Ramel in the USTA Men's Singles Amateur Indoor Championship final at Mount Vernon Health and Racquet Club in Alexandria. Engle also won the doubles championship with partner Bill Benjes, 7-5, 6-2, over Ken Anderson and Carl Clark.

In winning, the left-hander from Harvard, who says he will turn professional in May, had to overcome a rough second set and a poor serving performance.

"My serve percentage has been very low so I haven't been very aggressive with my motion," said Engle, who missed many of his first serves, allowing Ramel to charge the net on Engle's second serve and keep Engle on the defensive.

Ramel's strategy failed in the first set because of a number of unforced errors, but then it took hold.

"All week, I've been winning by chipping at people's second serve and following that to the net," said Engle. "But he was coming in on everything and took that away from me."

Ramel, a junior at the University of Iowa who was born in Malmo, Sweden, developed a groove with his serve-and-volley game and easily won the second set. That set up one of the most exciting sets of the week, which included four ties.

In the final set, each player held serve until game six when Engle lunged to his left and sliced a cross-court forehand past Ramel for a 4-2 break. But Ramel came back to win the next two games setting up the most tense game of the match.

The players battled through six deuces and eight game points before Engle sent a soft backhand lob over a leaping Ramel who fell backward at the net, giving Engle a 5-4 lead. Ramel recovered, however, and held serve for 5-5.

But Engle took a 6-5 lead on his serve, then broke Ramel in game 12 for the title.

"It was like he got an injection after {winning the six-deuce ninth game}," said Ramel. "He nailed four straight serves-and-volleys and suddenly I was out of it."

Engle sewed up the match as he lured Ramel to the net with a short backhand drop shot and then, after a weak Ramel return, sent a deep forehand lob winner over the Swede's head.

"In the final set, Claes stopped coming in after his serve," said Engle. "So for the first time, instead of chipping, I could step back and really hit the ball.

"It's funny, I really didn't think I would win the tournament. I was just hoping to keep in shape over the winter break and get some matches under my belt. But this will definitely shorten up the drive home."