Pro pool player leads ladies rackin' 'em up at tourney 

Ewa Mataya Laurance is a gorgeous woman. You know it, she knows it " they don't call her "the Striking Viking" for nothing.

But as the saying goes, she's more than just a pretty face. The Sweden native is one of the globe's top professional pool players " a multiple titleholder, at one time the No. 1-ranked shooter in the world. She's worked hard for three decades to be able to sink a trick shot like few others on the planet, yet can't help if she looks like a high-fashion model.

"Right or wrong, in this country, female athletes who are attractive have " in general " a more lucrative career," Laurance said. "I'm sure a lot of the corporate exhibitions and public appearances I do and the attention I've been able to bring to the game are due not only to the fact that I am a world champion. But when it comes down to it, it's what I do on the table that amazes people."

Laurance's a-cue-men will be on full display for five days, starting Wednesday, July 30, at the Women's Professional Billiard Association U.S. Open, to be held at Riverwind Casino in Norman.

A 2004 inductee into the Billiard Congress of America's Hall of Fame, she has already won the WPBA U.S. Open twice before in her career, but she's not one to rest on past accomplishments, no matter how lengthy that list.

"I have the best job in the world! I play pool for a living. How can you have more fun than that?" she said. "Although don't get me wrong: I still love to win, and will continue to try to do just that for as long as I'm out here."

Next Wednesday's tourney is a standard nine-ball championship, but Laurance is perhaps better known for her dominance at trick-shot competitions, in which players make up their own seemingly impossible shots that challengers must duplicate. (And she's perhaps best known for doing so while wearing ESPN-friendly skintight black leather pants and low-cut sleeveless tops.) Her mind-set in approaching both styles of play, however, is the same. No matter what the games, she said, "you need to keep the concentration constant."

"When competing in trick shots, there is more room to have some fun between shots and laugh it up abit with the audience," she said. "There is more concentration necessary in trick-shot competitions, however, due to the fact that every single shot is incredibly difficult. With good cue ball control, while playing other games, you normally get a bit of a break here and there, and get some fairly easy shots. In trick shots, not so."

Laurance said the key is to come to trick-shot tourneys with moves invented to play to her strengths " and hopefully not to her opponents'.

"A lot of trial, error and practice is involved," she said. "After I've practiced, the cloth on my table has hundreds of little holes in it!" "Rod Lott

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Rod Lott

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