Person of Interest – Tosa West Varsity Tennis Coach, Kosta Zervas


Wauwatosa West tennis coach, Kosta Zervas, coaches both boys and girls tennis at the varsity level.

This moped-riding, ‘Greek Freak’, weather obsessed, man of the town coaches tennis at Wauwatosa West.


When did you start working at West, and what did you do?

I started working at Tosa West in 2001, and I was a student supervisor here at West. Then I started coaching. I started coaching at Tosa East when I was a sophomore in college in 1997. I was a JV tennis coach for girls, and then I held that position until 2005. Then I became the head girls coach here, and then I was the boys coach in 2008. I’ve been coaching since 1997, and coaching at the varsity level since 2005, here at West.

Why did you choose to start working at Tosa West?

Well I was working here, I knew the kids, and I was really excited to have program of my own, and I’m proud to be a Red Raider while going to Tosa East, but having a chance to build my own program at West is something that I always wanted to do, and getting the opportunity here was unique, and I still enjoy doing it to this day.

Are you well known in the community? 

I think I am. I grew up in Wauwatosa. I went to Tosa schools. I went to Jefferson Elementary School, then I went to Longfellow, and I went to Wauwatosa East. So I think when you live in the community for all your life, and you get to meet people and work for the district and serve on different committees and boards around the area, you get to meet a lot of people, so I would say I’m pretty well known just based on who I work for and what I do.

What is your favorite part about working in the Senior Center?

Everybody’s different. I think our seniors are a group of people part of our community that are really, really important. They’ve lived a very interesting life. They have lots of stories to tell. As part of my job, a lot of fun is getting the chance to sit down with some of them and talk about their life, like, what it was like to be my age when they were in the 1940s or 50s. But what life was like then, like no TV, maybe not even a car. Listen to things on the radio. I find that really fascinating. Just seeing all the things you hear about all the things that happen, what they’ve been through, being through the depression, World War One and World War Two, Vietnam War, all those different conflicts within our country, and our world and having their views on it. It’s really, really neat. Just talking and listening to their stories is really, really fun.

What is the funniest thing that happened to you when you were working as a student supervisor?

One time, I got hit with an apple. I was walking through the trojan room and an apple struck me in the back. Some kid threw it at me. Needless to say, the young man got suspended. I kind of gave him a hard time a couple days before that, and he got mad at me. So he reached out to hit me with an apple, so I will never forget that.

What’s the most unique thing about you?

I think, my background. Being Greek. I am very proud of that. I think my name is very unique. Not many Kosta’s running around Wauwatosa except maybe a boy here. I think there’s a boy here at West named Kosta. And I know who he is, but I think my ethnic background is a part of me that I am very proud of. So I think that’s what’s unique about me is that I’m very proud to be Greek. People sometimes get annoyed by that, because I say it all the time, but I’m just really proud of that.

If you were to have any other job, what would it be?

Meteorologist. I’m obsessed with the weather. I like winter snowstorms, severe thunderstorms, and heat waves. I can’t see myself being on TV as a meteorologist, but being behind the scenes working at a weather station would be pretty cool. If I look at my phone, I have five or six weather apps that I always go to. I like looking at weather models and looking at storms coming, and kind of being able to say, ‘Oh, well, maybe next Thursday there could be a snowstorm, or there’s a snowstorm coming.’ 

What’s the hardest part about coaching? 

Different personalities working with kids. You know, each kid has a different personality, trying to coach the girls one season versus coaching the boys. Coaching the girls is a little bit different from instructing boys. But just learning different personalities and how to work with them because each kid is different.

What was your favorite tennis experience?

Favorite tennis experience probably was having some really strong players at the singles level qualifying for state at those spots. But what stands out the most is a stretch of time when the girls program from 2013-2014 we were back to back to back champions, so we won the dual conference tournament. We won the tennis conference tournament, and won the conference championship, so a wonderful crowd three years in a row which is pretty special. 

When did you start playing tennis?

I started playing tennis when I was eight years old. I really didn’t start getting lessons until I was in high school, so basically what I was doing was different. My friends and I spent time at Hyde Park just hitting the ball around and having fun, but I started when I was eight, just recreational and then as I got older, I decided that I wanted to make tennis my main sport then I started getting some instruction with private lessons, but my parents couldn’t afford that so (I did) some group lessons and as much as I could.

Have any students kept in touch with you from when you were a student supervisor?

I still interact with a lot of my former students on Facebook and Instagram. It was one of my first years here at West. He was in my study hall and he kept hanging out with me and talking to me, and he said “You’re gonna be my friend”. I said, you know, Ryan, I have a lot of friends, you’re 14 years old. He said “You’re gonna be my friend”. Okay, whatever. Then that’s his senior year, he comes around, he’s using my office as his locker and just kept in touch. And today, he’s one of my good friends. We go golfing together. There’s still kids to this day where I go out for dinner or walk around our community or in Madison, and I’ll see former students and they’ll recognize me and talk, former tennis players who still come back to practice and play. I mean, it’s kind of a neat thing. It shows that you’ve done a good job that adults still want to get into contact with me. 

Who was your favorite staff member to hang out with?

Back in my younger years, when I used to work here, I first got out of college, and a lot of the staff members were about my age. So we would all usually work the football games, or basketball games, then we all head out afterwards for dinner together. So a lot of people, a lot of them actually have kind of moved on from now. So I think the person who is still here that I used to chat with all the time is Mr. Veit and Mr. Oliver. But especially Mrs. Looker. Mrs. Looker and I worked well together. We were colleagues together. She and I worked together for almost 14 years side by side. So Mrs.Looker is probably the one that I was really close to. I was just talking to her before I came in, catching up on life, so she’s probably the one that I keep the most contact with.

What are some of your passions?

Family is important to me, Friends and family. My current job of working with seniors, advocating for them. Making sure their lives are fulfilled, with programming at our senior centers. I have a passion for my religion, Orthodox religion at church, it’s a passion to be a positive role model for kids in our community and kids at our school.

Tell me a little bit about your moped.

That’s one of my favorite things to do in summertime is get on a moped and just drive around town. Like if I’m having a long day, I just can’t wait to go home and hop on it, get my helmet going, and I just cruise around. If I’m bored, I will just take a ride down to the village. I’ll have everybody come around, and it’s the best purchase I’ve ever made in my life. I love it so much. It’s fun to hang out with it and drive it around. I’m actually part of a moped gang. It’s a group from Elm Grove. My buddy lives in Elm Grove and he has a moped too, and I joined their moped gang last Memorial day. I have invested everything, we’re called the Eagles. So it’s one of the best purchases I’ve ever made in my life. It’s kind of my thing.

Tell me a little bit about your background.

Being part of an immigrant family was challenging. English was like my second language. I grew up speaking Greek at home, and it’s just, it’s a part of me that’s really important. I try to just share my culture with everybody. I love to share my heritage, my culture with people around me. Being part of my church is a big part of my life. Growing up, that was the center of our family, going to church, doing events at church, spending time there with kids my own age. For my parents, that was their social life, because everyone was there speaking Greek. My dad being from Greece, that’s where he could go to speak his language, and that was a big part of our life growing up and to this day it is where I try to continue traditions with my family and my nephews. New years is a big celebration for our family, and I was able to introduce that tradition to my new goddaughter. Traditions are really important.

If you were to supposedly be given money, what would you do with it?

I definitely would invest it, and I would make sure that my family was taken care of. I would give a lot of money to my church to make sure they’re financially sound, and then just invest and help my nephews make sure they’ve paid for their college education, but also just make sure that my family is taken care of.